Here is another nice overview of some of the results seen from the application of Lean Thinking to the healthcare realm.
One thing the healthcare people understand better than manufacturing folks is that you can't allow your lean efforts to be derailed by allow lean improvements to directly cause job loss.
“In some cases, they fail because of poor implementation or lack of resources. In turn, workers get frustrated and fear job cuts as companies cycle through such management practices. Several hospitals, such as St. Agnes, do not lay off workers. Instead, workers are typically redeployed throughout the organization.”
In hospitals I work with, the goal is to either A) grow “the business” by using freed up space increase the amount of work done by the same number of people (such as insourcing lab work that was previously outsourced) B) allow headcount to drop through attrition or C) redeploy employees to full-time lean efforts or to other departments.
Since lean depends on getting employee involvement and participation, it's natural that the efforts would die off if people feel threatened.
I toured two “lean laboratories” today, in two separate hospitals in the same major city. It's so encouraging to see that a lean lab gets great results (faster, high quality test results to patients) and that people are happy working there. Lean is not “mean.” Lean doesn't mean you pressure people or work them harder. Lean is about eliminating waste and making things EASIER. Lean labs are able to cut their cycle time (they call it “turnaround time”) by 50 to 70% by changing the layout, moving toward single-piece flow and implementing standard work and standard processes.
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