“Loving Care” for Patients Doesn’t Have to Wait for Valentine’s Day


Today is Valentine's Day, so this blog post should give you a few hours' warning to buy a “just in time” gift for your loved one, if need be. The price of roses is certainly higher around this day, which should serve as proof that the basic economics of supply and demand always apply and “value is defined by the customer,” as we say in Lean.

But, this day makes me think of the wonderful “Loving Care” concept as shared by my healthcare friends from The Netherlands. It seems an appropriate topic for today – or any day, really.

This post from 2010 was the first time I wrote about their term, as described by Dr. Jacob Caron:  Lean is “Loving Care”?

“Loving Care” means freeing up nurse and staff time so that they can be loving and caring toward their patients. It's such a great example of Lean not being some form of cold, ruthless efficiency — but rather a more caring environment where all of the needs of a patient, both clinical and emotional, are met. A “Loving Care” hospital, created through Lean methods, is certainly not “turning the hospital into a factory.”

Much as I love my wife every day of the year, and not just on Valentine's Day, we can also provide the ideal “Loving Care” each and every day, as well. What are the systemic problems and barriers that prevent us from taking the time to stop and truly meet our patients needs? Why are we too busy racing off to the next task or fighting the latest fire, leaving patients in the lurch?

Here is a guest post from Marc Rouppe van der Voort about a related topic, “Kaizen and Passion.”

In my post about the 2012 Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit, Marc and Jacob elaborate on Loving Care (see video of their talk, in English):

Marc and Jacob also elaborated on “loving care.” Good healthcare is more than a technically well-performed procedure. People need to be treated with respect at all stages of the care process.

Their true north is:  No waiting, No harm, Loving care

Registration is now open for the 2013 Lean Healthcare Transformation Summit, by the way — and I hope to see you there. I will be moderating the CEO panel. (Disclosure — I am receiving a free registration for this event in exchange for my participation).

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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. Hi Mark, thank you for this post on our hospital. Lean and loving care (and quality & safety) are more and more integrated. Recently every employee received a book wilt stories on lean and loving care and with our core values, including the statement applying lean enables us to provide loving care. We are learning every day how powerful the combination can be.


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