Health care serviceslean in hospitalsLean six sigma

Delivering High Value Healthcare Through Lean Hospitals

By 30th March 2020 June 30th, 2020 No Comments
Lean Healthcare in Hospital Services

The demand for quality healthcare has never been so important with the recent episode of world wide challenges faced by the human race.

However, most hospitals are far from being humane and still working with outdated models. Demand and supply issues are widening the gap in providing quality healthcare.  We can count few truly world class hospitals that are maintaining sanctity of the institution with primarily objective to serve and beyond commercial interest. Needless to say that profitability is important but not at the cost of quality healthcare and customer delight.

Many doctors in the non-lean set-up focus on probable correction. But very little importance is given when people visit them for pro-active or preventive health care. Most of the physicians believe that they are already best in class and nothing new needs to be learned from other industries. particularly automotive or Lean methods.

World wide, in developed countries dependency of insurance is high and the cost of healthcare becoming unaffordable to common people.  This is primarily because the value addition for patients or touch points by the health care services are less than 5%. Remaining time is spent in non-value added activities.

Most of the so called high profile management in Hospitals feel that the best in class practices of other industries are not applicable to them or they consider themselves to be highly superior in the industry sector compared to Automotives or Lean practicing industries.

However, the need and the results that can be expected from Lean systems in Hospitals are far more rewarding. Only visionaries can look at the out of box thinking of how concepts such as 5S, standard work, Lead time reduction, Quick changeover, Kaizen can help them transform healthcare services. Having technical knowledge of anatomy, surgeries or prescription is not just enough. Every process has to be robust to deliver exceptional healthcare services.

Common issues in traditional healthcare organisations/hospitals

  • High stress
  • Lack of motivation
  • No appreciation
  • Unscheduled working hours
  • Have to face same problems repeatedly
  • Not finding the right items at the right place at the right time needed.
  • Blame game and lack of accountability
  • Over-processing of admission process and discharge process resulting in long lead time
  • Missing schedules of administering prescribed medicines
  • Unskilled frontline staff.
  • Absenteeism
  • Lack of clear accountability
  • Understaffed
  • Medical Errors, wrong administration of medicines.

With recent healthcare challenges faced by the human race in the form of Covid-19, there is a renewed sense of purpose for healthcare professionals.

Key objective is to provide the best possible care to patients and keep people healthy and at the same time safeguarding oneself is one of the key purposes redefined.

Key objectives for world class health care system:

  • Improved responsiveness
  • Enabling faster recovery
  • Optimised cost
  • Alleviating anxiety
  • Reachability
  • Support in preventive disease

Should Lean methods to be adapted by health care is some common question asked  when a suggestion is given to the Hospital owners. Lean is a common sense approach and some of the practices are already adopted by default without knowing that this is from the Lean way of thinking.  Eg. Industrial engineering from Gilberths by introducing a nurse assisting surgeon to enable surgeries more efficiently. This is the current practice which is taken for granted.

This is one of the lean methods by considering value adding frontline team members as surgeons in other industries sector.

Related Article– Application of Lean Thinking in Apparel Industry

Key lessons:

  • Lean in healthcare and hospitals are proven to be successful.
  • Improving quality and service delivery are mean to overall profitability.
  • Lean is not a set of tools, it is an organisation culture that enables integrated system which helps in meeting overall objectives
  • Take care of team members. They take care in delivering superior value to the patients and customers
  • Cost cutting is different from waste elimination.  By waste elimination, costs can be controlled and not the other way.
  • Not all the activities done in hospitals are adding value.  In fact, it manifests as waste and interferes with the work and value delivery.
  • In order to eliminate big waste, some small waste has to be introduced. Not all can be considered as waste.  It needs a big picture. Lean consultants in Healthcare and Hospitals from consulting companies like Seven Steps Business Transformation Systems help the teams in taking hospitals towards world class levels.
  • Focussing on standardising and process improvements helps in improving overall performance.
  • Direct observations which are called as Going to Gemba will help the leaders to identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Linking end to end processes through value streams help deliver better value.  Hospitals should come out of silos mentality and blocks between different departments and functions.
  • Standardized work in hospitals helps in delivering services consistently.  This is primarily developed by the front line team members with the support of leaders
  • Taking help from Lean Hospital consultants make transition from traditional to lean more efficiently.
  • Standard work is not to be left further improved. In fact, standardising is the first step for further improvement.  Where there is no standard, no improvement will sustain.
  • Most errors in hospitals are caused due to systemic issues in hospital rather than individuals’ negligence.  Layered process confirmation concept which is popular and effectively implemented in other industries can come in handy for ensuring system compliance.
  • Encourage openness and accountability
  • Error-proofing the error proofing is important in Healthcare

Improving organisation performance in hospitals is more about the philosophy and mindset than it is about choosing specific tools.  It takes time to change from the old way of operations to World class level. Coming out of complacency and organisation inertial is the key.

Seven Steps Business transformation systems helps Hospitals who want to be best in class in true sense by providing consultancy services in the field of Healthcare.

In the healthcare sector, we support the following sections

  • Multi-speciality hospitals
  • Health clinics
  • Pharmacies
  • Government and private general hospitals
  • Diagnostic labs
  • Pharmaceutical industries
  • Medical research organisations
  • Railway hospitals
  • Primary Healthcare services

Related Article– Five Phases of Lean Roadmap – A Thousand Step Journey

Seven Steps group also conducts training through their group company Seven Steps Academy of Excellence on the following topics

  • Lean training for Hospitals
  • 5s for Hospitals
  • Visual management for Hospitals
  • Implementing standard work for hospitals and healthcare organisation
  • Training on problem solving skills to hospital frontline , team leaders and management
  • Implementing Lean six sigma in Hospitals and healthcare services
  • Lean six sigma green belt for hospital 
  • Lean Six sigma black belt training for hospitals

Some of the flagship training programmes conducted at Seven Steps Academy of Excellence are:

Six sigma Green Belt

Six Sigma Black Belt

Six Sigma Yellow Belt

Skill development programme – Campus to CorporatePrecision Engineering

Applied 5S


Lean Experimental Learning Programme