Assembling the right team to assist in the development of a major architectural design project is one of the most important decisions to be made by an organization’s leadership. This is especially true when the organization desires to have a hospital design that is aligned with efficient operating processes through lean healthcare principles. Because of the unique nature of a hospital’s collaborative and highly integrated healthcare delivery system, expertise from every level of the organization must be leveraged to develop future-state processes to drive building design. Following are a few pointers to consider when assembling your team.
Organizational Team Composition
  • At least one representative from each healthcare discipline necessary to provide patient care within the healthcare service family
  • Seasoned staff members who have long tenure within the organization and/or with other health systems
  • A mixture of individuals who supervise other staff (managers), AND those who routinely perform patient care (staff-level employees)
  • Ability to actively participate in all phases of the multidisciplinary process and meetings
 Ideal Team Member Attributes/Characteristics
  • Natural leadership skills
  • Passion for improving patient care
  • “Paradigm” shifters
  • Global thinkers (Vision beyond that of their individual department(s))
  • Strong communications skills
  • “Can do” spirit
The selection of the right design team is also critical. It is important to think about this team as more than just the architects. The design team includes architects, engineers, contractors, interior designers, medical equipment planners, and many others. All members of the project team must work collaboratively using lean healthcare as the foundation in order to eliminate the waste of defects and broken connections.
Key Questions to Ask:
  • Do any of the proposed team members identify themselves as Lean “Black Belt” or Lean “Certified?” (BEWARE – there is no nationally recognized “Lean Certification” degree or program at this time.)
  • Do the architecture firm and construction company incorporate Lean principles into their daily operations and business practices? If so, in what ways?
  • Do the architecture firm and construction company “go to the Gemba” as an integral component of their design process?
  • Have the proposed design team members completed any specific Lean training courses? (In-house training or Formal Lean Introductory Certificate Course?)
  • How has Lean thinking influenced the proposed design team members’ previous healthcare design projects? (Pathways? Connections? Standard work?)
    • It is important to understand that just because an architecture firm reports Lean Design experience, it does not necessarily mean that the assigned team has that same experience!
  • The most important question of all: How will the proposed design team facilitate the transition of your current-state processes into waste-free future state processes that can be integrated into the design of the new environment using lean healthcare tools and facilitation methodology?
New construction offers a unique opportunity to correct years of process workarounds and suboptimal space utilization. When combined with lean healthcare principles, the right team can guide the development of optimal future-state processes, complete with staff buy-in and sustainment that can be truly supported by architectural design. The result is a new building that will reach its full potential in improving the way healthcare is delivered.

This week’s blog was written by Teresa Carpenter, RN, the Director of Lean Clinical & Facilities Design for HPP. Teresa brings a unique perspective to lean healthcare as a registered nurse with extensive architectural design and facilities planning experience as well as move-in expertise. With over 12 years experience in the acute care environment, Teresa spent almost a decade as Clinical Operations Coordinator for an internationally recognized leader in healthcare architectural design. Teresa assists hospitals and healthcare systems in all aspects of applying Lean to the master plan, design, and operational aspects of a facility design or clinical expansion. Teresa holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the College of Charleston, and a degree in nursing from Trident College in Charleston, South Carolina.
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