I was going to blog about this, but Jon Miller from the excellent Gemba Panta Rei blog beat me to it and had some outstanding comments. So, I'll just point you his way.
I'll just re-emphasize the point that inventory is a symptom of other problems, including lead times (long or variable), demand variability, and quality variability. My challenge to you, as a reader, is to find a case where someone says “we need to cut inventory” and find the root causes for why that inventory is being held, then work on a root cause, such as reducing supplier lead time variability.
This article, and Jon's comments, also emphasize one way “lean healthcare” is different than lean manufacturing — it can be very tough to plan capacity or level load your demand when pandemics can occur.
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