Interviewed for articles in "Becker’s Hospital Review"


I was recently interviewed by a reporter at Becker's Hospital Review and these are the articles, linked below, written for a hospital and operating room audience.

5 Key Principles for Hospitals From Toyota's Lean Production System

This first article came out fine, I think, although I'd take issue with Point #3 that you must “embrace technology” – a focus on technology isn't strictly a Lean approach. That didn't come from me.

Technology's not bad, but it's not always necessary. Toyota Way principle #8 says:

Use only reliable, thoroughly tested technology that serves your people and processes.

You can use technology and be Lean. You don't have to use technology to be Lean. Technology “can” reduce the need for labor, but I've seen many cases where it does not reduce labor because the technology was bad or wasn't integrated well into processes and the way work was done. You can eliminate the labor involved in manual inventory counts with a paper kanban system — technology might help,but it's not a core part of the Lean approach. I've seen hospitals with amazing bar code-driven Lean inventory control, but such technology can actually hamper you if it's not in line with your people or your processes.

I've seen many labs with automation technology that actually slowed the process and required just as much labor. Same is sometimes true in pharmacies. Nurses are often slowed terribly by poorly designed bar code scanners (for medication) or electronic medical record systems that don't match their workflow.

This second article was driven more directly from my discussion with the reporter:

3 Best Practices for Implementing Lean Processes at Your Hospital With the Author of Lean Hospitals

Any comments? Leave them here, as there's no comment function on their web page.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

  1. Ty Knox says

    Your second point about gaining support of change agents is key from my experience. I've worked in manufacturing and healthcare and in any environment, having stakeholders that understand the importance and implications of Lean has been invaluable. It ties directly into your third point of starting small as Lean is more than a process improvement methodology and requires, in most cases, a change in management. Starting small can show what 'could be' and encourage others in the organization to be part of the change.

  2. John Toussaint says

    Mark,I agree with all three. I also agree that most of the time hospitals are trying to solve the wrong problems not problems that directly effect staff and physicians as well as patients.We jump to solutions before we have defined the most important problem and we never solve anything meaningful.

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