While lean strategies and concepts were first developed in the manufacturing world, they have far-reaching benefits in almost any other field. One field that has seen tremendous value from lean strategies in recent years is healthcare. When it comes to lean integrations in healthcare, it’s less about cutting costs and more about reducing issues in both the staff and patients’ daily experiences. With a focus on patient and staff quality and safety, cost savings have often been the outcome.
The below strategies provide the foundational elements a healthcare organization should consider.
Enhance Patient Satisfaction
One key area of focus should be patient satisfaction. There are ample opportunities to address patient satisfaction in healthcare, starting with their experience before their arrival. Healthcare leaders can begin by assessing the forms and paperwork they require of their patients. Moving to electronic systems can help eliminate duplicative fields on various forms.
Upon arrival, leaders can look for opportunities to reduce wait times both in the waiting room and exam room. Strategies like moving high-tech equipment into exam rooms or doing basic exam checks on arrival can help reduce wasted time.
Finally, analyzing follow-up care for gaps in communication, paperwork, and testing can be another opportunity for waste elimination.
Leaning on Frontline Staff
Frontline staff are some of the best resources for gathering data on best serving patients and other staff. Most often, frontline staff receives patient complaints and compliments on their experience at the office. However, if there is no system in place for managing this information, it can end up lost and unaddressed.
The best way to leverage frontline staff is to take the time to go where they work and interview them about their experiences. In addition to gathering feedback in person at regularly scheduled visits, frontline staff should be encouraged to provide suggestions for improvement. Implementing a system that allows frontline staff to add comments, feedback, and recommendations for improvement can be a key way to establish an environment of continuous improvement.
Lean Leadership in Healthcare
Before lean strategies can be implemented in any organization, leadership needs to be on board. This begins with having a concise set of goals and a clear implementation strategy to share with the organization. The next step is to align the healthcare organization around the goals and vision for the lean implementation process. Proper communication at this step is vital. Everyone involved in the process, from reception staff to doctors, should know exactly what to expect and how they can contribute to the success of the implementation.
Ultimately, lean healthcare has the capacity to improve the quality of care provided, enhance the patient experience, and result in financial gains for the healthcare organization. To get to these desirable outcomes, however, it’s essential to be sure that the patient experience is central to the planning process. With this focus, leaders can build an organization that is high-quality, efficient, and cost-effective.