Lean primary care model increased physician productivity by 5%, study shows

Implementation of a Lean primary care model can lead to decreased operating costs, as well as better physician productivity and patient satisfaction, according to a study published in American Journal of Managed Care.

For the study, researchers examined Lean-based redesigns for primary care clinics in a nonprofit, ambulatory care delivery system. They specifically looked at Lean-based redesigns across 46 primary care departments in nearly 20 clinic locations.

After implementation of Lean redesigns, healthcare facilities saw a 5 percent increase in monthly productivity per physician. Researchers used work-relative value units — a measure CMS uses to calculate physicians' Medicare reimbursement — to gauge productivity.

Healthcare facilities also saw overall patient satisfaction rise from 49.1 percent to 63.2 percent after implementation. Specifically, healthcare facilities saw a nearly 8 percent increase in patient satisfaction regarding the handling of personal issues about safety, privacy and exam room cleanliness, according to the study. Healthcare facilities also saw a nearly 50 percent increase in patient perceptions of access to care via appointments, phone calls, online messages and referrals. However, the study notes healthcare facilities saw a nearly 12 percent decrease in patient satisfaction regarding interactions with care providers.

Researchers said they found total operating expenses were lowered per department following implementation of Lean redesigns, but note the reductions weren't statistically significant.

"Lean redesigns can benefit primary care patients, physicians and staff without negatively impacting the quality of clinical care," the study's authors concluded. "Study results may lead other delivery system leaders to innovate using Lean techniques and may further enhance support for Lean learning among public and private payers."

 

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