Lean health care

What is Lean?

“Lean thinking” is considered a philosophy of continuous improvement.

Lean is about removing waste and increasing value for our patients, clients and residents, all while improving the problem-solving skills of our staff.

Lean engages the people that do the work in the decision-making process and helps build a culture of experimentation using the ‘Plan Do Study Adjust (PDSA)’ framework.

Eight types of waste

These are the eight types of waste:

  • Transportation – transporting patients, specimens, medications, supplies, long distances.
  • Inventory – having too much stock of materials and supplies.
  • Waiting – waiting for service, materials, approvals.
  • Overproduction – producing more of what the patient needs.
  • Unnecessary processing – duplicating work.
  • Errors – not doing a task right the first time.
  • Skills – not using an employee’s skills to their fullest. Often considered the biggest waste.

The benefits of Lean

Some of the benefits of Lean include:

  • engaging front-line teams to fix problems affecting their work;
  • improving quality outcomes;
  • reducing errors;
  • improving morale;
  • making problem visible;
  • improving turn around times;
  • developing problem-solving capabilities; and
  • improving flow of services.

Lean health care is…

Speaking up for the patient, client or resident

  • Designing work with the user at the forefront. This means taking unnecessary steps out of the process that do no add value.
  • We achieved this by following the process as from the patient’s perspective, developing a curious mindset and asking lots of questions to gain an understanding of why things happen the way they do.

Building a culture of continuous improvement

  • Lean is the relentless pursuit of perfection.
  • Every process can improve but first we must understand where we are starting from.
  • Once a baseline is established, Lean can help teams develop and test experiments using PDSA thinking and achieve positive results by measuring and monitoring key performance indicators.

Building an army of problem solvers

  • The lean framework is about solving problems systematically, effectively and rapidly. It provides a set of tools to help bring problems to the surface.
  • Eastern Health provides a suite of Lean training for employees and physicians.
  • Problems are solved through collaboration and engagement with key stakeholders. Teams rely heavily on process improvement coaching and facilitation.

Lean training for employees and physicians

At Eastern Health, each Lean training course we provide to our staff and physicians has a combination of didactic and simulation-based learning.

We believe that learning occurs when people get to apply and practice what they learned in the classroom. We provide the following lean training:

  • Yellow
  • Green Belt
  • Black Belt
  • Kaizen Blitz
  • Lean Management Systems

We are continuously developing courses and simulations to help our staff learn more about Lean improvement.

Lean Resources

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Last updated: 2021-07-02