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Key Concepts of Lean in Healthcare (2 Day Class)


This two-day workshop is designed for individuals and teams that want to gain a better understanding of the components and underlying philosophy of lean, and how the elements and philosophy work together to create a lean healthcare organization. This course is designed specifically for healthcare settings, incorporating examples from many departments and patient pathways.

This course explains how the visible tools and methods of lean are based on a mindset, philosophy, and thought process. Special emphasis is placed on balancing Toyota’s equally-important core principles of continuous improvement and “respect for people.” Practical steps will be presented for starting with lean immediately upon returning to your healthcare organization, as well as a way of thinking through a longer-term lean strategy for your organization.


You will learn the key techniques, philosophies, and management system that comprise a lean approach in healthcare. Successful lean healthcare efforts result in measurable improvements in patient outcomes: improved quality, less harm due to preventable errors, better access, shorter waiting times, and better service. These patient benefits come from a joint focus on improving the work life for medical providers and hospital staff, improving processes to prevent systemic errors, reducing stress levels, and reducing waste so that hospital personnel can spend more time on and focus more on patient care. The hospital or healthcare organization benefits in a long-term perspective due to reduced capital costs and ongoing expenditures, growth opportunities created by freed-up capacity, and an improved reputation that results from better quality and service.

Course Outline:

  • Where does "lean" come from?
    • Be able to articulate, for your healthcare colleagues, where the term "lean" and the core concepts come from - How does a methodology with roots in the automotive industry possibly apply to healthcare?
  • Why should our healthcare organization pursue lean?
    • What core problems do we need to solve?
    • How would we measure success with our lean efforts?
    • Examples and results from the world’s leading lean hospitals
  • What are core lean principles and concepts in a healthcare setting?
    • Purpose, Process, and People
    • Toyota's management system and applications to healthcare
  • Learn, through example case studies and exercises, lean thinking concepts:
    • Defining "value" from a customer and patient perspective
    • Identifying "waste" and non-value-added activity
    • Identifying and improving "value-streams"
    • Creating better "flow" for patients and processes
    • Preventing errors and improving quality in a systematic way
    • Creating an environment of true "kaizen" (continuous improvement)
  • Overview of commonly used methods, with real healthcare examples:
    • Value-Stream Mapping
    • Work and Process Observation
    • Heijunka (level loading of work and patient demand)
    • Standardized Work and Checklists
    • Visual Management
    • Error Proofing
    • Kanban and Materials Management
    • A3 Communication and Problem Solving
  • Lean Management and Culture
    • Key lean management principles
    • Engaging employees in continuous improvement
    • Creating a "no-blame" improvement culture
    • Improving processes through measuring results in a constructive way
    • Sustaining lean improvements
  • How to Get Started
    • How to identify and prioritize lean activities?
    • How to define and communicate purpose and goals?
    • Commonly used lean implementation strategies, including Rapid Improvement Events and Lean Transformation approaches
    • Exercise to create an Action Plan

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Who Should Attend:
Individuals or teams with little to moderate experience and exposure to lean who are looking to increase their understanding; front-line clinical or professional staff, physicians, managers, and senior leaders who want an understanding of the total scope of implementing lean in a healthcare setting; cross-functional and cross-level teams are encouraged to attend together.

This program is offered at customer facilities only, as an on-site workshop. If you have any questions or want to bring this workshop to your organization, please contact us at info@lean.org or 617.871.2900.