My job in Lean Heathcare allows me access to some of the most wonderful people in the world. I love having so many opportunities to work alongside of those that share the mission of healing and serving those in need. When I first began to work in Lean Healthcare a few years ago, I viewed my contribution as being limited to the process improvement work with providers and clinicians. I quickly saw how important my work could be to the end user — the patient — through those efforts. Little did I know how much I would feel like a part of the team in each healthcare facility that I have worked.
It has truly been a life changing experience for me as a person. For example, one of the things I noticed is that when someone asks for directions to an office or location inside a hospital, employees do not just give directions–they walk the guest to the location to make sure the customer finds their way. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow! I cannot believe someone would take that much time to walk across campus when the directions are so easy.”
I didn’t think much about this except for the times in passing when I saw this same sort of event occur over and over. That was the case until one day I found myself walking down a long hospital corridor only to encounter a lady in a wheelchair. She held her large purse in her lap with one hand. She was using her other hand occasionally to steer the chair while propelling herself forward using one leg. There was no one around but me. I quickly looked down as to not be noticed while the guilt of what I was seeing rolled over me like a ten-foot wave from the ocean. It was then that I caught a glimpse of the hospital badge dangling from the lanyard around my neck. I thought, “She sees me as part of this hospital. I need to act like it!”
The 650 yards that I wheeled this sweet lady to the outpatient pharmacy was a short walk for a man with two good legs. I know that in some small way it must have helped her. However, it helped me as a person even more. I really understood what it meant to be a part of the team of people that touched the life of one in need while working in the field of Lean Healthcare.
Reflecting on my experience, I am reminded of a key principle that truly enables and propels Lean culture. “Respect for the human being” has long been a key principle of Lean. To support this, the organization must first have a true focus on the customers and patients it serves. Second, the organization itself must create an environment that is non-blaming and non-judging to the individuals that work in the processes that deliver value to those customers/patients. The focus becomes one that is centered on quality processes that drive results by speaking with data to solve problems and eliminate waste. The organization relies on the individuals that work in those processes and they are viewed as being the organization’s most precious and valuable resource.
Today, I continue to learn and grow as a result of the daily interactions that I have working with clinicians and others who are part of the overall healthcare industry. Even more so now, I feel I am part of a greater purpose and team of people that share the mission to heal and serve those in need.