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Because eliminating waste at every level of an organization is fundamental to lean principles, and because “lean thinking” requires buy-in from every member of an organization’s team to be successful, it becomes deeply embedded in the culture, resulting in innovation at every level.By deploying lean healthcare, organizations are also improving patient satisfaction as decisions and processes become more and more patient-focused.Some interesting lean healthcare examples are highlighted here: Since the first pioneers shared their learnings at the Global Lean Healthcare Summit in 2007, more and more healthcare organizations have implemented lean methods in their mission to gain control over costs while improving care quality and outcomes.
Lean healthcare is the application of “lean” ideas in healthcare facilities to minimize waste in every process, procedure, and task through an ongoing system of improvement.
Using lean principles, all members of the organization, from clinicians to operations and administration staff, continually strive to identify areas of waste and eliminate anything that does not add value for patients.
Taiichi Ohno of Toyota, the originator of lean principles, described seven areas of waste that occur in every industry.
(Toyota later identified the eighth waste.) It may seem counter-intuitive to apply what has worked in manufacturing in a hospital setting, but by implementing lean in healthcare and reviewing processes and systems through the lens of the eight wastes, organizations can potentially: Improving patient satisfaction, scheduling appointments, decreasing overtime work, processing paperwork, and increasing clinic revenues are just a few of the areas where hospitals and other healthcare facilities are implementing lean principles.
Once immersed in the framework, leaders used it as a tool to help align and improve the work of the organization and key performance measures.
The organization’s emergency departments served as a prime example of improving key metrics, as wait times were significantly shortened to meet competitive challenges. David’s Health Care earned the nation’s top honor for performance excellence, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.The case is best suited for MBA operations courses and modules, particularly those focused on operations/process improvement.It also could be used in a hospital setting at a facility that has embraced a continuous improvement philosophy.” According to Gary Kaplan, CEO of Virginia Mason Health System, implementing change requires leaders to go beyond lean and to create a “sense of urgency,” develop a “shared vision,” “align expectations,” and demonstrate “visible and committed leadership.” In this way, organizations are using lean to effectively harness the collective intellectual capital of all their team members to maximize value for patients and to decelerate the unsustainable cost trajectory of healthcare.Real-world examples of how quality can make a difference in the delivery of healthcare.More importantly, lean values can be applied incrementally on a continual journey toward value-based healthcare.Each care episode and every patient interaction represent opportunities for cultivating value and cutting waste.A cross-functional team used the FOCUS-PDCA model to determine root causes and identify potential improvements.Upon implementing a variety of low-cost solutions, staff members felt more comfortable in reporting errors, thus providing valuable information for building safer systems.When applying lean principles in healthcare, organizations leverage a set of tools for implementing change.The focus becomes the elimination of steps and processes that do not contribute to patient satisfaction and superior care.