6 Principles of Lean in Healthcare

Lean, a quality improvement philosophy, can be applied successfully in healthcare to improve efficiency and quality, according to a report in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

The report was written by John Toussaint, MD, CEO emeritus of ThedaCare and CEO of the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value in Appleton, Wis., and Leonard L. Berry, distinguished professor of marketing at the Mays Business School of Texas A&M University in College Station.

In the report, the authors define Lean in healthcare as "an organization's cultural commitment to applying the scientific method to designing, performing, and continuously improving the work delivered by teams of people, leading to measurably better value for patients and other stakeholders." Dr. Toussaint and Mr. Berry identify six principles of Lean to help healthcare leaders consider implementing Lean or assess their current state of Lean implementation.

1. Lean is an attitude of continuous improvement. Lean involves a culture of continuous improvement in which leaders are always raising the bar to drive value.

2. Lean is value-creating.
The ultimate goal of Lean is to improve value. When measuring improvement from Lean interventions, healthcare leaders should always compare benefits and burdens, the authors wrote.

3. Lean is unity of purpose.
Lean can unify teams around a shared goal.

4. Lean is respect for the people who do the work.
Healthcare leaders need to empower front-line workers to drive improvement, according to the report.

5. Lean is visual.
Visual tracking centers provide easy access to data and serve as a place for communicating concerns and new ideas.

6. Lean is flexible regimentation.
In a Lean approach, workers need to identify root causes of problems and change standards to optimize processes, according to the report.

More Articles on Lean in Healthcare:

3 Tips on Adapting Manufacturing-Based Lean Strategies to Healthcare From Cleveland Clinic
4 Common Mistakes of Hospitals Implementing Lean Management

4 Steps for Improving Hospitals' Use of Data to Support Lean Initiatives

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