LEAN is a discipline that focuses on the reduction of waste in businesses. I think LEAN is ‘misunderstood’ by many healthcare provider leaders who confuse the principles with Six Sigma. When I think of Six Sigma, I think of data, data, data and more data and decisions that should be made getting delayed because ‘we don’t have enough data yet!’
That is not what LEAN is about and while service industries may need to make a few adjustments to the practices that were originally designed for manufacturing, the principles of LEAN are practical and relevant and do not require extensive research to come to an ‘actionable’ decision.
One of the principles of LEAN is the standardization of work. As I work with hospitals, I find that some clinicians initially are hesitant when I talk about standardizing their work. After all, they are the clinicians and they should know best as to how to take care of their patients, right? Well the answer to that is an overwhelming …..YES! But, let’s say a clinician needs to put in a central line (I.V.) into a patient. LEAN is not about the decision making process to put the central line in. That is the clinician’s decision…..LEAN is about developing a methodology to put the line in that ensures a consistent success rate without defects, confusion or waste.
I believe more and more hospitals will need to integrate a methodology that helps them reduce waste (wasted time, supplies, and process) to ultimately reduce cost. I should be clear to say that I do not see LEAN as a methodology to ‘downsize.’ Instead, by reducing the waste, the human resources of the organization become ‘freed up’ to be productive in other ways.
I am interested to know your experiences with LEAN!