Despite the high degree of training and exacting standards required for many roles in a the medical field, hospitals are not immune to the inefficiencies common to any large organization with a lot of moving parts.   In any hospital, delays of any kind can have a trickle down effect on many areas.  It can be difficult to determine where to target your efforts when your organization has so many specialized departments.  That is why our client turned to us for help.

The results of our data gathering exercise were definitely fragmented due to the diverse set of operational units within the hospital, but we categorized all of the delays, and one stood out among the rest.  Delays in pre-op times accounted for almost 19% of all delays.  This made sense; as pre-op delays have an on impact patient wait times, later discharges, and an increase in returns to nursing units – which adversely affects staffing and patient schedules.

We began with a GEMBA walk to identify inefficiencies, waste and other non-value added factors that were negatively affecting the hospital.  After analyzing the data, we formed a plan for the hospital to and worked with them to implement our process changes.  It was a success; after the first month of implementing our changes, staff overtime was reduced by 78%.   Months two and three averaged a decrease of 85%.   Additionally, discharge times were reduced by 27 minutes in the first month, and 33 minutes in the subsequent two months.

This project was a perfect example of how the Lean principles can deliver real results up front, but more importantly how training your employees to adopt Lean methodology can keep those results going in perpetuity.

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