The healthcare industry has made some great and influential developments in the past several years; and one of them is the implementation of Lean practices. Even though doctors and nurses may work around the clock, the healthcare industry has still not improved as quickly as other industries. They need to actively use Lean behaviors and principles for the growth of the healthcare industry.
In comparison to other industries, hospitals have a direct impact on their customers — patients, in this case. Today, the healthcare industry is using Lean practices to treat and diagnose patients, as they are the center of hospitals. By applying lean methods and behaviors, hospitals have achieved significant benefits. Some of the changes they’ve brought in using Lean principles include:
1. Waste Elimination
There are various wastes such as time, process and inventory waste and they are all non-value added activities. The fundamental principle of Lean is to eliminate all the wastes that exist in the current process. For instance, a lot of time goes in admitting a patient due to a long documentation process. If we reduce the paperwork, we can save this time and utilize it somewhere else.
This is considered to be another non-value added activity. There is usually a queue of patients when visiting a hospital, and if they fail to aid a patient just in time, they leave without treatment. However, Lean practices help any hospital to make sure that they won’t release patients until they have received the care they need.
There are materials or supplies sitting ideal in the inventory, even after their expiration dates have passed. In this case, we are wasting the cost to buy, store and dispose those supplies. Here, hospitals apply one of the principles of Lean— Pull. This principle allows hospitals to order the exact amount of supplies per their needs such as needles, gloves, etc., which in turn saves costs and avoids unnecessary stock.
4. Patient Care & Safety
Hospitals are all about giving better patient care at a fair and reasonable cost. To maintain a high quality of patient safety, doctors and nurses always enter the patient units and ORs practicing basic infection control practices. Keeping track of medication and documenting the important details of the patients leads to quality treatment and ensures patient safety.
5. Continuous Improvement
Employees at many hospitals have established improvement as a regular part of standard operating procedure. At some hospitals, Lean practices are not only a standard for every staff member, there is also a team dedicating all their time solely to it.
The deployment of Lean methodology has drastically changed the face of the healthcare industry, and many hospitals have made considerable amount of progress.