Guest Post by Alicia C. Simmer of KHC
There’s a choice to be made in how hospital leaders approach implementing lean: either let lean run free or force lean efforts to be coordinated.
In the ‘running free’ approach, power is distributed to departments and groups to make improvements => the on-the-floor experts focus on their issues and make changes that allow them do the right things, the right way.
This sounds great, right?
People are empowered to change their environment. Lean becomes incorporated into the culture and mindset of the hospital staff. Change and efficiencies are realized where the rubber meets the road.
Hospitals have a history of this approach, based on the theory that since change is so hard to accomplish, small changes anywhere are sure to make the situation better.
Is This Really Better?
But is that really better? This uncoordinated approach can lead to waste-shifting rather than waste-elimination, and the voice of the customer is very easily lost.
While small teams work in their silos, patients flow through the entire system, using resources at almost every level. The lack of coordination minimizes each Lean accomplishment because the work is isolated in the individual environment, leaving the patient to work around the inefficiencies of a non-systems based approach.
What do you think?
It makes me wonder if instead, leaders should begin with goals derived from the ideal patient experience, and then work on Lean projects that produce strong, standardized processes across the hospital or hospital system.
Hospitals/healthcare is the slowest industry to change, so we can learn a lot from manufacturing.
What do you think? Should we focus our efforts in a coordinated manner or allow the running free mentality to continue?
Alicia C. Simmer, a senior healthcare consultant with KHC, shares some insights on implementing Lean in hospitals. She runs Lean operational improvement projects for healthcare facilities and new facility planning projects, and she can be reached at asimmer@khcthink dot com.