Tuesday, February 11, 2014

How Toyota Production System Transforms Healthcare Organizations

Although originally developed from an automobile manufactured industry, Toyota Production System has proven itself as an effective management methodology for numerous organizational systems. The key goals of Toyota Production System are eliminating wastes (wastes are defined as non-value added activities), valuing their workers and continuously improving their productions line so that the best operation results can be achieved. In addition, Toyota Production System is workers-centered and promotes strong collaborations. As opposite to traditional management, TPS’s top managers tutoring the workers instead of giving orders.  The philosophies and tools which TPS used are essential and enlightening to many organizational operations. Many hospitals are also adapting TPS management to provide higher quality healthcare.

In the article 5 Key Principles for Hospitals From Toyota's Lean Production System written by Lindsey Dunn, she points out important flaws in the current healthcare system. First, there are too many wastes that do not add values to the patients; 80 – 90% of patients’ time are spent in waiting in the emergency rooms. Second, high inventory volume adds to carrying-costs of the hospitals. Third, resources and items are located at the wrong places and wrong time, preventing hospital staffs and doctors from delivering smooth and efficient process. Fourth, redundant bureaucratic system does not allow frontline workers to have a full control in difficult situations.  Fifth, there need a continuously improvement over the system, especially the needs of identifying root causes rather than just solving short-term problem that is going to reoccur in the future.

In the video of Miami Children’s Hospital’s adaptation on lean production system, we see there are TPS philosophes and tools used that allows Miami Children’s Hospital improved significantly. Miami Children’s Hospital is customer-driven and aims to eliminate wastes for their patients. For example, the hospital minimized the number of tools in the tool boxes for neurosurgery rooms, so that the patients do not need to wait for the staffs to count tools and figure out what tools to use. The hospital limit discharge times through putting up blackboards which indicating the discharged status of patients and tracking the waited time of the patients. Also, the staffs and the doctors eliminate the number of batches and files so that works can be processed more smoothly, since there are no unnecessary paperworks to be processed and waste patients and doctors/nurses time. The improvement creates a value-added streamline that facilitate collaborations among workers.
It is exciting to see that TPS can also be applied to healthcare system and to make hospitals more efficient and deliver better healthcare quality. A question that we can think about is how we can apply TPS to wider areas to make things better.

Transforming Healthcare Organizations for the 21st Century
5 Key Principles for Hospitals From Toyota's Lean Production System

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