New White Paper: “#Lean for Doctors”


Today, I'm happy to share a link to a white paper that I co-authored for Catalysis (formerly the ThedaCare Center for Healthcare Value).

The paper is titled: “Lean for Doctors.”

Appropriately, the co-authors are two physician leaders you might very well know: Dr. John Toussaint (founder of Catalysis) and Dr. Jack Billi (from the University of Michigan).

We wrote the article for a physician reader, to help them understand why Lean is appropriate and relevant for them, the role they can play in Lean improvement, and how Lean thinking is a parallel to medical thinking in many ways.

Click to read it (free and quick registration required). Please comment here if you have thoughts or reactions to the white paper.

How do you react to it as a physician?

As a non-physician? How do you think physicians you work with would react?

Should we also write “Lean for Nurses?” :-)  Lean for Medical Technologists? Lean for Housekeeping Associates?

Hear Mark read this post (subscribe to the podcast):

What's in the Paper?

I agree with Catalysis, of course, when they say:

“We at Catalysis feel the science of healthcare management significantly lags behind progress in clinical medicine, yet the management of healthcare has serious consequences.  This white paper outlines what can be done to provide structure to better manage healthcare and engage Physicians in the process.

The paper includes these points:

  • Best practices for getting physicians to accept standard work
    • (I'd add this means engaging them in defining standardized work, not forcing them to follow something you came up with)
  • Comparison of the “SOAP” model to the PDCA cycle
  • Applying lean principles to problem solving
  • How major university hospitals apply lean thinking every day
  • Lean to align, enable, and improve
  • From lean thinking practitioners to lean health systems


Here are some short excerpts from the paper:

“As healthcare organizations explore and embrace scientific problem solving by all clinicians and staff, it is critically important to engage physicians in this process. Lean offers physicians a means to remove non-value-added activities that unnecessarily exhaust their time and energy, and, thus, frees time for doctor-to-patient care. Unlike old management models that typically attempt to force change upon physicians and other healthcare professionals, Lean engages everybody in the practical science of improvement. As such, physicians and other clinicians should be familiar with Lean principles and they should be using them daily in the care of patients.

Great medical care and Lean thinking in healthcare have much in common, and the both drive toward common objectives (Figure 1). With Lean, clinicians can apply their aptitude and experience to solving system problems related to clinical quality and safety, while simultaneously improving the timeliness of care, cost, and throughput issues.

The science of healthcare management significantly lags progress in clinical medicine. There are no placebo-controlled, double-blind studies proving best management practices. Yet the management practices applied in healthcare have serious consequences to the staff, patients, and their families.”

Again, click here to access the paper.

I was happy to see this on Friday:

Past Articles and Podcasts

Here are some past articles and podcasts with John Toussaint and Jack Billi from my archives:

Have a great weekend!

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

Did you like this post? Make sure you don't miss a post or podcast — Subscribe to get notified about posts via email daily or weekly.

Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

Get New Posts Sent To You

Select list(s):
Previous article#TBT: Don’t Blame the Kicker, Don’t Blame the Oscar Presenter, and Don’t Blame the Healthcare Professional
Next articleMeeting A Professional Hero: Donald J. Wheeler, PhD, of “Understanding Variation”
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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.