Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lean is the Way of the Future in Healthcare

Donald Berwick MD, the newly appointed head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) gave his first public speech September 13, 2010, to attendees of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) conference on Medicaid and Medicare. He called on leaders to join in the pursuit of “Triple Aim” to improve healthcare in the US.

Triple Aim has three goals:
1)     Improve quality of care with one of his priorities patient safety.
2)     Better health for populations.
3)     Reduce per capita cost by eliminating waste.

Lean Thinking in healthcare will address safety, the quality of care and will decrease costs.  

Our system is so fragmented that it is difficult to see the “whole” patient process. The quality of care suffers as a result. Each unit of care functions independently creating poor communication with critical patient information being lost. Healthcare waste such as duplication, rework, and movement further dilute the clarity of the care process.

The implementation of Lean Thinking will streamline patient care, and remove waste. Lean identifies the patient experience as a “whole” system rather than separate functions. This becomes a team method of providing care. This way of seeing care from a new perspective, makes the process clear to all the caregivers.

Communication breakdown is a major contributor to patient errors. To reduce these failures, communication standards are developed as part of the new streamlined process. This helps eliminate much of the guesswork and assumptions that often drive how decisions are made regarding care.  

As steps and waste are removed, the quality of care improves. Each step that is removed decreases the potential for errors. As this occurs the cost per capita of care goes down.
The Lean healthcare culture and philosophy provide the environment in which these results can be achieved. I believe

 “Lean is the Way of the Future in Healthcare”

©2010 Solutions for Lean Healthcare Inc.

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