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The Best Lean Healthcare Stories You May Have Missed

by Lex Schroeder
June 4, 2014

The Best Lean Healthcare Stories You May Have Missed

by Lex Schroeder
June 4, 2014 | Comments (2)

Today and tomorrow (June 4-5), 600+ healthcare professionals and lean practitioners will gather for 5th annual Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit in Los Angeles. Among many topics, participants will discuss:

  • how to deliver better patient outcomes in less time, at lower cost
  • new payment methods and processes
  • how to solve problems with information flow and access to data
  • how to identify and eliminate waste in healthcare processes
  • the lean transformation process in healthcare settings

In preparation for the Summit, we've gathered our best healthcare stories on the The Lean Post. Perhaps you missed them the first time, perhaps you want to check them out again. 

In "Engaging Physicians to Solve Real Problems in Healthcare," Dr. Jack Billi (from the University of Michigan Healthcare System) explains why he thinks physicians are ideal partners in lean healthcare transformations:

"Lean is practical to its core. Helping physicians 'learn it by doing it' can help overcome resistance. When physicians can see for themselves that scientific problem-solving improves patients’ experience while making it easier for them to do their work, most become converts. For this reason I suggest always scoping a problem or project to ensure it includes some representation or telling of the physician’s pain with the current process...

Since lean thinking is essentially the scientific method, practiced through iterative cycles of PDCA, physicians already have the mindset to be lean thinkers. We pride ourselves on practicing evidence-based medicine. Physicians are natural allies in a lean transformation."

In "Transforming Healthcare is Complex, Start With a Model Cell," John Toussaint explains why and how model cells are essential to organization-wide culture change:

"Why build the model cell? First, it’s the best way to help people learn. In the process creating teams, people learn the tools, principles, and management system behaviors and characteristics required for transformation. Second, a model cell is the best way to help the organization learn; you want to use the model cell to show the rest of the organization what good looks like. This is the first step in 'spread.' Spreading lean thinking or any improvement isn’t easy. But without a model cell, it’s impossible. The power of being able to go see a totally new way of doing things or approach to problem solving in your own organization cannot be underestimated. The model cell becomes the learning center for the organization. It creates the excitement within teams that fundamental change can occur and be sustained, and it lays the ground work for the next model cells that will solve other business problems."

In "The Question All Healthcare Leaders Should be Asking Themselves," lean coach and author Mark Graban gives us an example of what lean management looks like in healthcare:

"In a hospital, many of the problems and defects are invisible. The checksheet is an attempt to make problems visible. But once a problem is visible, a manager then needs to step in to help. In each individual unit, the manager should be able to see that boxes are not checked. Yelling at somebody, 'We told you to do hourly rounding!' doesn’t help. That's ineffective, just as much as ignoring the problem or not noticing the problem in the first place. And yelling may create fear that it’s not ok to acknowledge problems, perhaps leading people to check the boxes even if they hadn't completed the task. 

In a Lean hospital, the manager asks questions. Is the hourly rounding being done, but not documented? If so, do staff understand why it must be documented in the first place?"

Lastly, be sure to check out this powerful video with Alice Lee, VP of Business Transformation at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center, in which she speaks candidly about the challenges and rewards of applying Lean in a hospital setting.

Are you speaking at or attending the Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit? We want to share your stories on the Post! Submit your article here or pitch me on a story via email at lschroeder@lean.org.

What other stories of lean applied to healthcare would you recommend? 

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views or policies of The Lean Enterprise Institute.
Keywords:  healthcare
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2 Comments | Post a Comment
Mark Graban June 09, 2014
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Here are my blog posts with notes from the Summit:

http://www.leanblog.org/2014/06/live-blogging-day-1-lean-healthcare-transformation-summit-2014/

http://www.leanblog.org/2014/06/day-2-notes-lean-healthcare-transformation-summit-2014/


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Lex Schroeder June 11, 2014
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This is fantastic. Thank you for blogging from the Summit, Mark!

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