Lean Healthcare Using Kaizen – Healthcare

Using the much acclaimed Japanese theory of Kaizen as its basis, lean healthcare encourages hospitals to make small improvements to its processes on a continuous basis. This exercise not only reduces waste and increases efficiency, but also provides enhanced value to customers and boosts the healthcare facility’s bottom line.For example, applying lean healthcare in point of care testing might mean equipping nurses with two or more supply bins. As soon as all the supplies in one bin are used up, it could be sent for replenishment. Meanwhile, instead of anxiously waiting for fresh supplies, the nurses could use the supplies in the second bin. This approach would eliminate the need for overstocking, resulting in reduced storage space requirements and reduced waste.Thus, the same fundamentals that have made Kaizen a hit amongst manufacturers can help to create more efficient point-of-care diagnostics as well.Kaizen involves three levels of application: brainstorming, innovation and standardization.BrainstormingImplementing Kaizen for point-of-care testing requires extensive idea generation.To begin, the facility needs to identify the areas where maximum waste occurs. To pinpoint these, every event from the time a patient enters a hospital to the time when he is finally discharged should be examined.For example, instead of adding personnel to a department, upgrading the equipment used might prove to be an effective way to increase the number of patients treated by existing department members. In addition, upgrades may cost less than recruiting, training and making place for new specialists.Opposing this view, some caregivers believe that having less staff available for point-of-care diagnostics would create an unsafe environment for patients.However, lean healthcare addresses this by reducing only unnecessary tasks. In fact, crucial tasks would be made more efficient so that caregivers can deliver better quality treatment to their patients.InnovationBy using its property in innovative ways, a healthcare facility can increase customer satisfaction along with its own profits.Statistics show that surgeons are often overworked all week long while hospital beds go empty over the weekend. By performing more surgeries on a Friday, patients could be given recovery time on a weekend. In this way, surgeons could have a more relaxed week while patients would miss fewer days of school or work.Also, certain kinds of treatments involve a patient visiting multiple rooms for different tests and diagnoses. Having related rooms nearby reduces transit time, thus expediting the treatment. Creating multi-purpose rooms for point-of-care testing also saves space and helps a healthcare facility to expand.StandardizationStandard processes reduce errors and costs. For example, designing a uniform operation theater cart would reduce time spent in creating it. The standardization would reduce errors made by the preparation staff and avoid overstocking as well.This said, no solution is perfect since each healthcare facility and the industry as a whole keeps evolving. Staying true to the spirit of Kaizen, lean healthcare requires a hospital to make continuous improvements, while always bearing the patients’ welfare and its own processes in mind.