Imagine being a patient in a refugee camp where you hardly have access to clean water and electricity and are constantly dreading the sound of an airstrike coming your way. Now imagine being a caregiver in that environment. Or imagine being a caregiver in a developing town, where medicine is scarce and recurring cases are a result of inadequate resources. Unfortunately, this is the situation in many regions throughout the world. People’s most basic healthcare needs are not being met in these volatile or remote areas. Among a variety of contributors, lack of healthcare facilities and resources is particularly significant.

How can peacekeeping and volunteer organizations use people, technology, and processes to provide the best treatment for patients and solve healthcare issues in these situations? They can look to methods of Lean Healthcare, and in this case, Lean-Led Design. Lean-Led Design is an aspect of Lean healthcare that is used to identify critical clinical and non-clinical processes and their associated resources in order to design the most efficient center of care at the lowest cost. Lean-Led Design is important because it guides us to think about the specific environment in which the care is provided so that we can adapt.

According to the United Nations and non-governmental organizations around the world, the most pressing global health crises are occurring in developing nations and refugee camps. Hospitals as we know them cannot exist there; a lack of infrastructure, shortage of resources, and unpredictability of scenarios render traditional hospitals ineffective. By adapting Lean-Led Design techniques and focusing on the critical aspects of delivery of care, we can design adaptable, low-cost, and highly efficient centers of care for the aforementioned transient environments.

The primary objective of Lean-Led Design is to standardize as much of the process of delivery of care as possible. Doing the right work the same way every single time will result in a higher quality of care, and variation in any environment will cause often unnecessary and expensive waste.

A primary concern with centers of care in refugee camps and towns across developing nations is quality. Whether the center of care is a large tent or a small building, how do you ensure quality? The first part of the answer is the design itself. Since it is based on the most efficient processes of delivery of care, the design should inform caregivers and reduce their errors. The second part is where we must leverage additional Lean concepts and utilize standard work and proper training. Through thoughtful planning and continuous improvement, we can mitigate errors and maintain the highest level of quality possible.

For over 50 million refugees and hundreds of millions who lack basic healthcare services, a better model of care is necessary, but Lean-Led Design in only the first step. By utilizing additional Lean Healthcare methods and leveraging technological innovations, we can effectively address these global health crises. By designing and implementing adaptable, low-cost, efficient centers of care, we can focus on proactive care rather than reactive. Furthermore, we position caregivers to better observe population health and predict epidemics, another major contributor to global health problems.

Providing a higher quality of care at a lower cost can be a challenge in any environment and when we look at these particular environments, we make it considerably more difficult—but not impossible. At the intersection of Lean Healthcare and the global health crisis is the potential to bring quality healthcare to hundreds of millions throughout the world.


Today’s blog was written by Sidhartha Sinha, Organizational and Process Solutions consultant at HPP.

Sid’s expertise includes operations, strategy deployment, and Lean design.  His diverse background with experience in the government sector, the non-profit sector and large Fortune 500 companies brings a unique perspective to the healthcare industry.  He has worked with a variety of teams internationally and his multilingual skills are an asset to improvement work around the world.

Sid received his Bachelors of Science in Industrial & Systems Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Image by Freepik

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