ILN14: NASCAR, Health Care and Hendrick Motorsports

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I come for the innovation safaris… and to meet new amazing friends….

As part of Innovation Learning Network’s (@HealthcareILN) in person meeting, I visited Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) with colleagues, who have very little experience with NASCAR, and now that we’ve visited, we have a healthy appreciation, as can be seen from the Wikipedia entry about them:

All Hendrick race cars are constructed start-to-finish at the 100-plus acre Hendrick Motorsports complex in Concord, North Carolina. More than 550 engines are built or re-built on-site each year, with the team leasing some of those to other NASCAR outfits. Hendrick Motorsports employs over 500 people that perform many day-to-day activities. In 2009, Hendrick Motorsports made history by having three out of the five drivers finish in the top three places in the point standings (Johnson, Martin, and Gordon).

That’s just to orient people who are not familiar with who Hendrick Motorsports is. 312,000 twitter followers are 🙂 .

Lots of takeaways:

  • The concept of team – the pit crew are the athletes here. They are on a regular workout program, monitored for their fitness, in a pretty complete gym on site.
  • The concept of accountability – we watched as precision parts were stamped with the initials of the staff who created/worked on them. Everything is traceable back to the person. When there are problems, human error is easier to manage than a problem that’s systemic to an automobile part.
  • Respect for the customer – in this case, the sponsors – the vehicle haulers are immaculate and great care / attention is given to supporting the sponsors image and reputation (you could say the analogy is the employer who sponsors an employee’s health insurance)
  • Quality control and winning – there’s a prize (a win) that results when everything is done right – a goal that makes people want to innovate and incrementalize as much as possible
  • Innovation through constraint – there are things about the NASCAR cars that are specified and must meet specification. There’s a process that is gone through to change this spec. For example, 2015 will be the first year where digital gauges will be in the cars. Right now they are analog, and there are very few allowable sensor technologies. There are 2 3D printers on site as well….

We were not allowed to take photographs in any of the production areas so we’ll just record this with our minds. The facilities were clean, orderly, and showed to my eyes a respect for the job at hand.

As usual, I saw many analogies to health care…Thanks Hendrick Motorsports for the tour and the ability to imagine how the discipline here could be applied to health care.


Ted Eytan, MD