A Lean Perspective on Employee Shortages

I heard a great comment on Monday from a hospital President.

He said, quite passionately, I might be paraphrasing slightly:

“We don’t have a shortage of nurses and other workers. What we have is a shortage of good management systems, like Lean.”

His point was that if hospitals, nationwide, could reduce wasted motion and wasted effort, that we’d have enough nurses. Nurses spend a very high percentage of their time on things not directly related to patient care. Imagine your assembly line shutting down because operators are leaving the line to go get their own parts and supplies. That happens all the time in hospitals, taking nurses away from patients and value added care because we don’t properly support them with Lean processes.

I was reading Bob Emiliani’s book “Real Lean” last night on the plane and there was a great related comment in there (again, might be paraphrasing):

If employees truly are our most important asset, why do we allow so much of their time to be consumed by wasteful activities?

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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