Kim began his career in family medicine in 1979. By 2004 he became a strong believer in the Toyota Production System and its ability to improve the ease of delivering quality care and contribute to financial success. Kim left private practice after nearly 40 years to devote his career to medical care innovations inspired by lean methodology.

Kim has firsthand experience implementing kaizen in his prior role as director of quality and innovation for primary care at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle. As a result of his work, the medical center experienced quantitative results including positive primary care financial margins, disease management and screening attainments exceeding national averages, and a consistently favorable patient satisfaction rating. Additionally, Kim implemented flow production of indirect care using Toyota Management System principles, contributing to provider satisfaction and sustainability rates that are atypical in today’s primary care practices. He also developed a best practices tactical force which sought to align clinical practice patterns with operational practice patterns to support evidence-based care.

Kim has earned many accolades, including recognition as a top doctor in Seattle Magazine for 10 consecutive years; American Medical Group Association’s Preeminence Award as part of the Virginia Mason team in 2011; and the James Tate Mason Physician of the Year Award from Virginia Mason Medical Center in 2006.

External Publications

  • "A Decision Aid Versus Shared Decision Making for Prostate Cancer Screening: Results of Randomized, Controlled Trial" (The Canadian Journal of Urology, August 2017)
  • "Improving Acute Respiratory Infection Care Through Nurse Phone Care and Academic Detailing of Physicians" (The Journal of American Board of Family Medicine, March-April 2015)
  • "Primary Care" (Transforming Health Care, by Charles Kinney, 2011)
  • "Care Culture and System Redesign" (The Healthcare Imperative: Lowering Costs and Improving Outcomes, 2010)

Selected Speaking Engagements

  • Getting On-Line and Up to Speed in Evidence Based Medicine
    (Virginia Mason Medical Center physician training course, 2002-2017)
  • Choosing Wisely, Reducing Antibiotic Use in ARI
    (Washington State Health Alliance, October 2015)
  • Better, Faster and More Affordable: Primary Care as a Driver of Market‐based Health Care Reform
    (Institute for Healthcare Improvement seminar, 2011)
  • IDCOP, Implementing Lean Production in the Office
    (Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Idealized Design of Clinical Office Practices seminar, 2009)
  • How to Rapidly Find Best Evidence for the Busy Clinician
    (Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract, May 2007)
  • Implementing Lean Production in the Office
    (Institute for Healthcare Improvement Seminar, 2006)
  • Implementing Lean Production in the Office
    (Kaiser Permanente Resource Stewardship Leadership Forum, 2006)
  • Clinical Guidelines
    (Institute for Healthcare Improvement mini-course, 1999)
  • Career Development for the Physician
    (Institute for Healthcare Improvement mini-course, 1995)

Professional Affiliations

  • Licensed Physician, Washington State Department of Health
  • Member, Affordability Work Group
  • Member, American Academy of Family Practice
  • Member, American Board of Family Practice
  • Member, Puget Sound Health Alliance: Prevention Work Group


  • BS, biology, University of Cincinnati (magna cum laude)
  • MD, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
  • Resident, University of Cincinnati Family Practice Residency

Insights from Kim Pittenger, MD