Alumni Knowledge Series – Lean Management in Health Care

Last week, in the Alumni Knowledge Series, we had talked about Machine Learning and what are its applications in the world nowadays. We received a lot of queries regarding the implementation of technology in the medical sector, and today’s topic is related to the same. Please share your opinions in the Comments Section below on this article and what you would want us to talk about in our next article.

With the medical industry booming in the last few months, a lot of people are looking at the industry for their career. But the future of Healthcare is shaping up right in front of our eyes, with technology playing a major role in the advancements. Technologies like artificial intelligence, VR/AR, 3D-Printing, Robotics, and Nanotechnology are not just buzz-words or science fiction but are being used in the medical industry nowadays. The future of healthcare lies in working hand-in-hand with technology and healthcare workers have to embrace emerging healthcare technologies in order to stay relevant in the coming years. A major category of the medical industry is the management of people, processes, and production. and the latest tools being used in this respect is Lean Management.

What is Lean Management? And what does it have to do with health care?

Let’s say your business is great and you are thinking of expanding. That’s great but it is also the riskiest time for your business. In fact, many businesses don’t survive the transition. Should you throw money at the problem by investing in new equipment or hiring new people? Should you make your staff work more overtime? Your answers to these questions can make or break your business, and that’s where Lean comes in. Lean is a philosophy of delivering value from your customer’s perspective, eliminating waste, and continuously improving your processes. Lean Management is based on four principles:

  1. Pull Production: Rather than producing as much as possible, customer demand pulls goods or services through the manufacturing process. This minimizes overproduction, inventory, and ultimately working capital.
  2. One-Piece Flow: Focusing on one single piece at a time minimizes work-in-progress process interruptions, lead, and waiting time while increasing quality and flexibility.
  3. Takt or Pace of Manufacturing: It’s how fast you need to manufacture a product to meet customer demand. Takt allows us to balance work content, achieve continuous flow, and respond flexibly to changes in the market.
  4. Zero Defects: Mistakes happen but a lean company doesn’t pass on defects. Mistakes from previous steps must be fixed before going on.

Combined with a robust, continuous improvement process, the four principles of lean management help any company stay ahead of the competition in a constantly changing marketplace.

So how does Lean Management fit in with Health Care?

The aim of any health care company or professional can be divided into three main principles:

  1. Better Care: Enhance the Patient experience of care (including Quality, Access, and Reliability)
  2. Better Health: Improve the Health of the Population
  3. Lower Cost: Reduce, or at least Control, the per capita Cost-of-Care

You might say that Better Health Care can be bought at high-end hospitals, but it comes at a higher cost. Lean Thinking is all about providing better quality and better service to the customer at a lower cost. So applying Lean Principles to healthcare will create the following type of improvements:

  1. Shorten process lead times or turnaround times resulting in a better quality of service for the patient and lower costs.
  2. Fewer errors due to problem-solving and error-proofing
  3. Productivity growth by eliminating waste will increase capacity and reduce costs
  4. Quality improvements that lower cost and results in satisfied patients

Lean Management use is currently limited in the medical industry due to:

  1. Lack of Resources
  2. Lack of Leadership Support
  3. Lack of informed and educated staff

So, get yourself skilled on Lean Management and see your career prospects rise in the medical industry.


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