Sunday, November 2, 2014

Lean in Healthcare

With my interests in Healthcare industry, I went onto analyze how healthcare industry incorporates the principles of lean manufacturing processes to reduce inefficiencies and improve the overall value to their customers. Although originally developed for the manufacturing industries, the key goals of lean production — eliminating waste, valuing employees and continually improving — can be applied to service providers, such as hospitals.

In healthcare, the processes include admitting a patient, conducting a clinic visit or performing surgery. The lean management method helps workers to eliminate mistakes, reduce delays, lower costs and improve the overall quality of healthcare.

Implementation of lean processes also facilitates the continuous identification and elimination of waste, such as duplicate labs tests and forms. Lean concepts can improve the flow of patients through the clinic and reveal points that slow the workflow. Personally, I feel this process flow is the most important for Healthcare industry to focus on. During my past visits to hospitals and clinics, the foremost problem that I encountered was ‘Wait Time’.  I had to wait for long hours in the patient queue to get an appointment. Additionally, filling up of multiple forms adds to increased wait time during hospital visits. Three years ago, when my grandfather had to be admitted to the hospital, we had to go through filling up around 20-25 forms with some redundant information.  Lean technique focuses on removing such redundant and non-value adding activities, and thus, the wait time addressed.

Another important aspect is to keep inventory low. This can be straightly derived from manufacturing processes where lean methodology is applied. The inventory strategy focuses to reduce inventory and associated carrying costs. Not overstocking supplies can help hospitals to reduce supply costs associated with supplies that expire before they are used and the cost of storing extra supplies. 
When lean management processes are successfully applied in a clinic setting, patients benefit from greater safety, less delay in receiving care, and more timely results and treatments. Staff benefit by having less rework and greater opportunities to care for patients.

Altogether, the lean management system aims to better understand and exceed the valued customer’s (patient’s) needs.  Care takers strive to raise the bar in the areas of patient satisfaction, quality and safety, cost effectiveness, secure future and staff satisfaction.

How to overcome resistance acquired by employees when implementing Lean techniques?
How to remove redundant workflows in Healthcare sector?
Can Lean manufacturing processes be applied to Healthcare industry?


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