February 15, 2017

Lean Health Care – Creating Better Value For Customers

The foundation of lean health care is based on providing more valuable services to the customers using fewer resources. A lean healthcare organization focuses on understanding customer value and using different processes to increase the value. The ultimate effect will be providing perfect value services to the customers using perfect processes that create zero waste. To achieve this there should be changes made in the management process and the organization should optimize the products and services offered accordingly. Eliminating waste, using less human effort, less capital and less space and time to make the products and services cheaper and with fewer defects is the aim of lean health care.

What Is Lean Health Care?

The health care industry at present is struggling due to the increasing costs, poor quality service, shortage of nurses, employee dissatisfaction, etc. These are the problems which prevent the industry from providing good services and products to the customers. It is necessary to improve the quality of services and safety of the customers and to eliminate waste to make a change in the system to make the health care system a high-performing system. Lean healthcare helps to eliminate obstacles to performing better by avoiding difficult information technology, worker dissatisfaction and errors and lapses that increase the risks of the patients. Lean health care requires a proper design, proper implementation and continuous experimentation and monitoring to achieve improvements.

How To Build Lean Health Care Competency?

To make an organization lean healthcare competent it requires the development of a team who is able to learn, analyze, and apply the lean healthcare practices regularly as part of the operation of the organization. It requires the involvement of managers from the top to the bottom level and that of the basic workers in the organization. An organization can opt for lean health care performance partners to provide training to build the system effectively and to make the organization self sustaining.

Operating Processes That Can Be Improved?

With the application of the lean health care principles it is possible to achieve improvements in wide variety of operating process in a health care organization. This includes

  • Admission and discharge
  • Flow of the patient within and between the departments
  • Turnover of the operating room
  • Maintenance of medical records
  • Disorganization in the workplace
  • Inventory control
  • Administration
  • Billing
  • Equipment availability
  • Pharmacy workflows
  • Laboratory turnaround time
  • Emergency room work
  • HR and hiring process

Significance Of Lean Healthcare

The most important significance of lean health care is the value provided to the patients. Lean practices accounts for waste reduction and provides real value to the customers using the facility. Saved costs allow the organization to provide better value to the customers. According to lean healthcare any expenditure other than for providing value to the customer is regarded as wasteful.  Reduced expenditure of finances, time and resources give additional benefits to the patients. There is increased competition among health care organization and customer centric lean thinking is necessary for the survival. Providing customer satisfaction is important for any healthcare organization. Customer satisfaction is the parameter of performance of any health organization and hence the processes and methods in the organization should be optimized according to the needs of the customer to make the organization successful and effective.

Elimination Of Non-Valued Activities

Lean healthcare focuses on the maximization of effectiveness of the organization by increasing the velocity of various processes in the organization and by reducing the wastes. Hence it is necessary for the organization to have the right tools for analyzing the process flow and identifying the delays in activities inside the organization. Once the organization is able to identify the non-value added work in the process, it will be able to eliminate waste.  In a health organization, waste can occur in the form of lower quality products, higher costs, excessive effort and time, bad customer experience, availability of fewer resources, etc. It is necessary to reduce non-valued activities such as waiting, unnecessary transport and movements, over-processing and incorrect processing, unused workforce etc.

Analyze The Root Cause

In order to avoid waste formation the organization should identify the waste production through analysis of the root cause. Analyzing the root cause helps in easy implementation of lean principles and processes within the organization. The important things to consider analyzing the root cause are

  • Why the patients are interested in other health care organization?
  • Why the waiting time is more in your organization?
  • Why the organization is not able to manage the patient volume?
  • Why there are not enough beds in the hospital?
  • Are the patients discharged efficiently from the hospital?

Once the root cause of waste gets identified, the organization can implement the required training to achieve compliance with the standards in the industry.

Sources Of Waste In Healthcare

In healthcare industry the main sources of waste are the labor costs and overhead costs. The inventory in health care is negligible compared to other industries. Eliminating waste production in staff/ patient process is very important. The hospitals should try and reduce operating costs by using appropriate cost recovery action plan.

Determining The Action Plan

Lean principles allow you to attain substantial benefits from the organization by creating proper cost recovery action plan. You cannot expect all processes in improving the organization to increase your profit. The benefit will depend on the nature of plans implemented. Some improvements made during the duration of patient stay will help in easy, cost recovery as reduced resources are used by the patient. Whereas the improvement in certain process saves time, but do not help in cost recovery unless additional work is done. However the improvement result in time saved and increased revenues and improved customer satisfaction.

Successful Implementation

The successful implementation of lean health care requires the help of experts in lean performance process and the co-operation of the management and staff team. Different organizations have different problems which are characteristic to the organization and hence it is necessary to consider each organization individually and to create the right lean practices for them. After the initial improvements made the organization may also require additional steps to maintain the changes and to get benefitted by it.

If you are looking for more about lean healthcare and the benefits that you can reap out of the lean healthcare program, then all you need is to click on this video link

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