• Industry: Healthcare
  • Type: Survey report
  • Date: 4/1/2013

The three stages of Lean 

The three stages of Lean
The early achievements of applying Lean principles to healthcare have been useful but often fragmented efforts, creating islands of improvement in the short-term but failing to deliver lasting benefits. If Lean is to realize its potential, it has to be adopted on a broader basis to become ‘the way we do things around here’ rather than just a series of projects.

For this to happen, Lean needs to become part of the daily work of frontline staff and managers. A number of organizations are moving in this direction by creating daily improvement huddles where teams brainstorm new ideas, broadcast performance results within each unit, and ensure senior leaders spend more time at the frontline. Again, these advances – while positive – lack coherence. Long-term success can only come through an integrated management system that supports frontline engagement, root cause problem solving and continuous improvement.

“Patient journeys are not static but change over time. Therefore Lean coaching should encourage nurses, managers and clinicians to continuously adapt these paths by asking: “how can I do this better?”

Sören T. Eichhorst
Global Center of Excellence for Healthcare
Partner, KPMG in Germany

In this new, enlightened environment, responsibility for new ideas shifts from the manager, senior team or central quality group directly to frontline staff. Such change is supported by something often lacking in many hospitals; a culture of standard work and coaching. Standard work is defined as the best way to complete a process or task and is a dynamic concept that will evolve thanks to improvements over time. Critically, coaching is carried out not in classrooms but on the wards, giving staff the confidence and competence to implement new ideas in an atmosphere where innovation is encouraged.

Through these developments, everyone in the hospital should see continuous improvement as part of his or her role, which can simplify the patient journey, raise efficiency and cut costs. This ultimately enables a renewed focus on the reasons staff entered the clinical profession in the first place: to enhance the quality of patient care.

The three stages of Lean

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