I am encouraged to see healthcare leaders looking beyond the ways they have always done things in the past to implementing innovative solutions such as Lean to curb the industry’s skyrocketing costs, poor quality, nursing shortages and employee dissatisfaction; all symptoms of deeper problems inherent in the system itself.
Today’s forward looking healthcare providers have realized the financial and moral imperatives for improving quality and safety and eliminating waste as strategies for responding to their pressing challenges.
Lean Healthcare (adapted from the Toyota Production System) is not just for manufacturing or another short-term fix; it’s a way to transform an entire organization into a safe and high-quality, high-performing healthcare delivery system. If implemented properly, it can be the “how to” for managing change and creating continuous improvement.
Lean Healthcare is used to eliminate obstacles that prevent organizations from providing best-in-class healthcare by eliminating issues as vast as out-of-date technology systems, worker frustration and errors and oversights that can increase patient safety risks. Some “fixes” are complex, but lean methodology strives to find well-thought-out improvements that can be implemented quickly and without costing a fortune, if at all possible; thus the name Lean.
As a leader, it makes sense to at least research whether your organization would embrace the methodology and sustained results derived from lean implementation.
With the financial pressures that healthcare organizations are facing, many hospitals are using traditional cost cutting methods to save money by looking at layoffs and staff reductions. Many more hospitals, however, are finding ways to reduce costs through lean management methods that don’t require layoffs and can improve quality for patients.
Lean is actually the best alternative to layoffs. It’s all about encouraging everyone to participate in process improvement, as well as finding creative and interesting ways to save money for a healthcare organization to avoid those unwanted traditional cost slashing endeavours like layoffs. Layoffs don’t lead to long-term cost reduction. And if you lay off people and don’t fix any processes, you are risking patient safety and quality. As a result, more and more healthcare providers are looking at lean to break that cycle.
Healthcare is in crisis. The industry is struggling with skyrocketing costs, poor quality, nursing shortages and employee dissatisfaction; all symptoms of deeper problems inherent in the system itself.
More and more healthcare providers are realizing the imperative of improving quality and safety and eliminating waste as strategies for responding to the challenges. Enter Lean Healthcare, the “how to” of managing change and creating continuous improvement.
Lean Healthcare is not just another project: it’s a way to transform your entire organization into a safe and high-quality, high-performing healthcare delivery system.
You can apply Lean Healthcare principles to improvements in a broad range of operating processes found in every healthcare organization:
Internal patient flow within and between departments
Operating room turnover
Scheduling processes and systems
Inventory (supplies) control
Administrative processes and billing
Shift change processes
Pharmacy and Laboratory work flows and turnaround times
Emergency Room work throughput
Med/Surg floor improvement