Another Lean Hospital Tale


Medical treatment takes ‘lean' tack

Here's a great Lean healthcare overview, a news story that appeared in the Chicago Tribune last month about a hospital in Illinois (the above link).

Lots of great data and examples in there about the benefits of Lean for the patients and for the hospital organization. But, in honor of Labor Day, let's also focus on the employees, as the article does. First off, it appears employees were not laid off as a result of Lean:

Thanks to the lean initiative, the company cut 49,884 hours of wasted time, equivalent to the work of 24 full-time people, during fiscal 2007, which ended June 30, the company reported.

“Now those 24 people are focused on better patient care,” spokesman Chris Hamrick said.

Not only was waste reduced, such as the waste of employee walking, morale improved:

What's more, morale improved as staff members felt they were making an impact on the company's performance and on patient satisfaction.

On a related front (different hospital)… I can't blog directly about it too much, but I revisited an ongoing client of mine, it's been about a year since they started their Lean journey. The hospital department director relayed a story about an outside hospital consultant who came in — it was the type of consultant who shares what things other hospitals do.

The outside consultant was very impressed, asking “why am I here?” and commenting that the employees “all seemed very happy.” It's not that people don't still have complaints or things they'd like to improve, but Lean wasn't the disaster that some people might have feared. It's very exciting to see their progress.

As I'll write about in my book, we're doing this for the patients, the employees, and the hospitals. To quote the subtitle of the “Good News” DVD — “everybody wins!”

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. “Thanks to the lean initiative, the company cut 49,884 hours of wasted time”…does anyone really think that “wasted time” across a large number of people can be measured *to the hour*? The reality is probably something like “49,884 hours, plus or minus 3000 hours”

    People doing studies, and journalists reporting on them, would gain credibility if they would just round the number off rather than inserting a spurious precision.


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