There is a growing interest today in the healthcare field about the benefits that Lean can bring. This is especially critical in an environment faced with the challenges of climbing patient care needs and shrinking pool of skilled resources.
Without Lean, healthcare will continue to have difficulty meeting the pressure to serve an increasing number of individuals at less cost. As the population ages, healthcare must find new ways to meet the demand for their services. Turnaround time (i.e. patient cycle time, service Takt time) becomes a primary measurement that must improve whether it is in the hospital facilities, post care facilities or laboratories. Further, space is at a critical premium in running all the functions within a hospital facility. Only Lean can provide a solution to all these concerns with minimal expenditures but maximum benefits.
Why the Healthcare Industry Needs Lean
Healthcare today is not designed to make the value stream of care flow smoothly. As with manufacturing, healthcare services are often “batch and queue”, with patients spending most of their time waiting until the right process (skilled healthcare practitioner) is available. As a result, the value added processes are disconnected leaving the patient and the caregiver all disillusioned. The working environment is one driven by shared values and passion in delivering top quality products and services to the patient.
Benefits and Applicability of Lean Healthcare
Lean Healthcare can rapidly improve patient wait times, speed of test results, and create end-to-end process flow using proven Lean techniques and methodologies. It is all about results – servicing the patient better, faster, at less cost and being able to do more with less.
Lean Healthcare can eliminate many obstacles to excellence, such as cumbersome information technology systems, worker frustration, and inadvertent errors and oversights that can increase patient safety risks. Surprisingly few improvements require costly or sweeping high-tech “fixes.” Most often, simple, well designed interactions based on scientific observations and experiments can bring about unimaginably fast improvements.
Lean Healthcare principles can lead to improvements in a broad range of operating processes found in every healthcare organisation such as the following:
Internal patient flow within and between departments
Operating room turnover
Scheduling processes and systems
Inventory (supplies) control
Administrative, HR and billing processes
Shift change processes
Pharmacy and Laboratory work flows and turnaround times
Emergency Room work throughput
When done properly, Lean removes wasteful activities and allows healthcare professionals to focus on more patient value-based activities. The result is doing more with less – more people can be assisted with the same number of people, the same or less space, and reduced costs of providing services.
Lean Healthcare is indeed the answer to the challenges facing healthcare organisations today. It is a way to transform entire organisations into safe and high-quality, high-performing healthcare delivery systems.
You may be interested to explore our full range of Lean Training programmes.