Why should Medical Practices, Clinics, Laboratories, and Hospitals become LEAN?

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Lean Healthcare

Why should Medical Practices, Clinics, Laboratories, and Hospitals become LEAN?

Enrique Mora

In the last few years, competition and customer demands have been substantially increasing. Insurance companies also demand lower charges from the Health Professionals without compromising quality. Responsibility and Liability are up high and services in all specialties are at a constantly growing demand. This will keep the same trend as the "Baby Boomers" reach older age.

Hospital patients grade their experience based in a number of factors other than the health professional services. Timely warm food, ease of routinely procedures, personal attention and more. 

The cost of staffing, due to scarcity has skyrocketed. Energy consumption is outrageous. Most supplies are costly and require extreme care to preserve them. Spaces are always insufficient. Still many of these valuable resources are constantly underutilized! This sub-utilization of resources normally goes overlooked. The main reason for this is a quite common answer: "It is the way it has always been done".

Nurses are overwhelmed by big lots of workload, and so are physicians, receptionists, accountants, administrators, support teams, kitchen personnel, and even volunteers. This causes errors. Errors are costly and in some cases even deadly.  Though there is a great opportunity for improvements, few of the people involved in this rush can stop for a moment and THINK: What am I doing with my time? How can I improve my effectiveness? How can I contribute to create a better experience and service to my customers? How can I save effort and still be of better service? How can we avoid errors? What do I think could help me do a better job? Which improvements can be done to my work space?

Most of these answers are common to the manufacturing arena. For that reason, many healthcare institutions have turned to Lean experts, some have gone all the way to Japan to learn some of the basics. Leading manufacturers in America have also open their doors for healthcare personnel to observe, understand, assimilate and apply these efficiency principles to their daily activities. 

There is an analogy that I frequently bring up about what is happening in the traditional business environments. One day, as part of an improvement workshop (Kaizen Event), I asked a maintenance manager what was the main problem he would like to solve in his plant. He told me that his objective of implementing preventive maintenance had been in the "back burner for more than three years". When I asked "Why?", he said: "We are too busy running after the escaping chicken, so we cannot devote enough time to fix the fence in the corral."

Sounds familiar? How many times we know what we could do to save some time and money, but we do not have time or money to invest into it. This is called "living with the problem" and we can start making a difference right now. 

We understand the complexity of this situation and are ready to provide help. We will use an approach that healthcare providers are familiar with: First we will find exactly "where is the pain". The results will start showing up faster than you can imagine, once we can devote even if minimal resources (time and money) to address that pain: the most important opportunities. Sometimes they are called "problems", but we change the name to opportunities because that is exactly what they are. With those results the enterprise will start feeling the relief they need to breathe easier. Recuperation is underway. The healthier the patient the faster the recuperation. Fortunately, this is not as difficult as human medicine, and just a handful of our "treatments" will do the magic. We have very clear-cut remedies and systematic error-proof treatments and once they are learned by the teams, those teams can keep applying them again and again, producing residual savings and progress in a healthier operation.

Feel free to send your questions and comments...






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This page last updated on

08/02/08 21:57











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