This methodology has been successfully adapted to the healthcare environment, enabling hospitals and clinics to streamline their operations and to focus on value as perceived by their patients. Opportunities to deploy Lean in healthcare are abundant – addressing delays of medication delivery from the pharmacy, decreasing overall travel distance for caregivers, and reducing unnecessary paperwork, to name a few.
A large healthcare organization based in the Northwest embarked on a Lean journey in early 2005. It experienced the positive impact of Lean through two Kaizen events and is looking forward to continuing these efforts as part of its formal operations improvement initiative. The two areas addressed first were medical records and the pharmacy. Given that the hospital laboratory impacts the care of nearly every patient entering the emergency department, the next Kaizen focus area was clear – turnaround time for test results, the primary metric affecting all users of the laboratory.