Philosophy Behind Lean Healthcare Focus

Posted on June 24, 2011

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Question:  why all this fuss about lean in healthcare?

Answer:  there are three current industry preoccupations providing lean with interest and momentum.

  1. Healthcare Reform.  The genesis of healthcare reform law is waste.  On some level, the federal government believes 1/3 of all current patient care dollars spent are excess—duplication, unnecessary procedures, inefficient processes. Lean processes can fix this.
  2. ‘Do More with Less’.  This catch phrase is attached everywhere in healthcare these days, where the gist is to put more resources toward things that add value to patient care.  Lean is based on the principle all parts are essential and performing to their maximum potential.
  3. Increase Quality Outcomes.  Quality outcomes are a federal reform goal and manifest by reducing variability and discovering root causes of errors.  In effect, it means looking at all processes within a hospital and asking:  why am I doing things this way?  Do I have to do it this way?  Is there evidence behind why things are done this way?  Is there a better way?  Lean answers these questions.

Lean design may not be an end-all, be-all solution for what ails healthcare; however, it does happen to mesh well with some of the key industry goals right now. Whether it sticks around or fades away will be determined by the understanding, implementation and rigor behind lean principles, and how that all is executed in hospitals that survive.

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Posted in: Lean Design