This article describes the process Seattle Children’s Hospital has used to incorporate Lean into their continuous improvement system, or C.P.I. It explains how a new supply system, and the implementation of checklists, standardizations, along with non-stop brainstorming with the front line staff has led to improvements that they believe provide the highest quality of care and is most cost effective. The results of Lean have saved $23 million in patient care costs and $180 million cost avoidance in capital projects. Other healthcare organizations have shared their Lean story as well.
A RN from another hospital has a negative view about Lean implementation, which she believes has lowered staffing levels. This negative opinion is common with other clinical professionals as well. A hospital spokesperson in her organization does not share that view. Here, there is a strong disconnect between these perceptions of Lean.
This is an example of how “Lean” in an effort to reduce waste has not fully engaged the front-line staff enough to embrace Lean and see the improvements that can be made. I know that nurses will strongly resist any change that they do not feel improves patient care. When there is a concern from any clinical provider about the safety of Lean changes, these concerns must be addressed. When they are not recognized, the belief about “Lean” becomes negative.
There are many reasons for these thoughts about Lean. Some of these I have experienced when either the nurses/providers do not understand and/or see the positive results that Lean can make and leadership is not aware of these perceptions.
It is critical in a Lean transformation to have these views heard and addressed. Lean will never be fully embraced until these issues are resolved. This is unfortunate because Lean Healthcare has countless opportunities that improve patient care, cut costs, and increase patient and employee satisfaction.
A Lean philosophy must be embedded into the culture of the organization to succeed in a Lean transformation.