A common question I hear from many healthcare organizations is, “How do start effectively implementing Lean Healthcare?”
Regardless of who is asking, or from what area they serve within the organization, they share a common, healthy dissatisfaction with the outcomes of the current system.
One of the common delays with implementing Lean Healthcare is a lack of thorough understanding of the methodology and approach across the system of care delivery. Here are a couple of concepts to help overcome this common problem. Keep them in the back of your mind as you journey down a Lean Healthcare path. To prepare, step back, increase your field of vision, and look at the total system. Without this view, it is impossible to improve the outcomes of the system. The unintended consequences of a sub-optimal system can negatively affect patients, physicians, nurses and staff, even if there are stand-alone segments of the system that are operating optimally.
While taking a system approach there is an effective four-part framework to consider: Purpose, People, Problem Solving and Process.
People – Driving out fear will create an environment where all stakeholders in the system and processes become engaged.
Problem Solving – The scientific method through PDSA moves the conversation from random thoughts and ideas to one that focuses improvement to cause and effect. This will develop insight identifying the differences between common and special cause process variation.
Process – Focus on the bigger picture while driving to the point of impact. There is agreement that every process has inputs and outputs. The element that is often missed is the feedback loop. This feedback loop is critical to process improvement as defined in terms of Lean Healthcare.
I would like to encourage those healthcare organizations that have not engaged in Lean Healthcare to do so. We are all students – not having a complete understanding of all of Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s management system and of Lean tools should not become a barrier to starting on your own journey.
Have you hit a barrier in your Lean Healthcare work and found a path forward by stepping back and looking at the system?
For the past 17 years, Joe’s work has focused on operational improvements through lean transformations across North America and Europe. Prior to joining HPP, he worked across a variety of industries in multiple leadership roles from the front line to the executive leadership team. Joe received a B.S. in Engineering and Philosophy at University of New York. Additionally, Joe earned a Masters in Human Resources and Training and Development focused on Business Improvements and Balance Sheets from Webster University.