Lean Sigma Ireland - Business Improvement with Finbarr Sheehy

Lean Healthcare

Is the concept of Lean Thinking as applicable in Health care as it is in Manufacturing Industry?

Lean manufacturing concept was originated from Toyota Production System (TPS). This was designed for continuous process improvement in the automotive industry. This concept is equally applicable in service industries like Hotels, Restaurants, Telecom and Health Care.

The concept of TPS was introduced by Taiichi Ohno, and he focused on improvement of manufacturing and support processes by involvement of associated persons. Taiichi focused on personnel training, human creativity and standardization.

The concept of Lean Manufacturing is equally applicable in Health care as it is in manufacturing industry. In hospitals, different processes are being carried , for example operations, medical tests, admissions, emergency department care, regular routine checkups etc. In health care, internal customers are Doctors, Nurses, Administration and external customers are patients.

In health care, there are different types of wastes associated. Commonly found waste are:

  • Inventory is major contributing factor in hospital related costs. Sometimes, more items are procured then required, so it is considered as dead inventory. But lean manufacturing focus on fewer inventories but with frequent shipments. This will save money and space for more productive use.
  • Transportation waste is another key factor that lean manufacturing addresses. In Health care, if facilities are not properly designed then patients, test results, doctors, nurses and other stakeholders will have to walk and more time will be wasted.
  • Defects in health care are intolerable, because they can cause irreversible damage to human health. Common defects or errors can be wrong operations, wrong tests, and wrong test reports. In lean manufacturing, concept of Mistake Proofing (Poka Yoka) is used to avoid such defects.
  • Waiting Time waste is main factor in customer dis-satisfaction.

To become a lean health care organization, companies need to train their employees in different tools of lean. Some of the tools that can be very useful are:

All the above mentioned tools have significant effect on process improvement in health care systems and also it is evident that defects are highly not desirable. So, in order to become a defect free organization, one must start applying lean principles and tool in their organisation.

How can we help you?

We provide Lean Healthcare training for key staff as we create a core of teachers among your own staff to help you sustain the gains. Your organization will develop a culture that includes this renewable source of success within the organization.

Applying Lean Healthcare principles can lead to improvements in a broad range of operating processes found in every healthcare organization:

Contact us today and we would love to help you improve your patient service.

If you want to understand how simple measurement can make a difference to your business contact us and we will show you how.

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