Lean Healthcare Methodology to Reduce Wastage and Improve Quality

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Lean is a new patient focused approach in which the aim is to reduce wastage caused because of inefficient processes or excess inventory. It also tries identification as well as elimination of tasks, which do not help to add any value. The technique that has its roots primarily in manufacturing industry tries to empower employees for generating as well as implementing new innovative solutions for all the problems.

 Benefits of Lean Healthcare in organization

Benefits of Lean Healthcare

The advantage of lean healthcare is that it can transform any organization into high performing as well as safe healthcare delivery system. The other benefit of lean healthcare is that it can remove several obstacles to quality service like:

  • Employee frustration
  • Unmanageable IT system
  • Inadvertent errors
  • Oversight which heightens risks to patient safety

Improving Operating Processes

Lean healthcare strategy can result in improvements in a wide range of processes that are part of healthcare organizations. These operating processes can be:

  • Operating room turnover
  • Medical records
  • Admission/Discharge
  • Shift change processes
  • Inventory control
  • Workplace disorganization
  • HR Processes

 Reduction of Wastage

Reduction of Wastage

Lean tries to maximize efficiency by using tools to analyze process flow as well as delay occurring in completion of all the activities in any given process. The main idea is to reduce work, which does not add any value. The tools used help to identify as well as eliminate main causes of non-useful activities present in any process. Waste is a major bottleneck in any organization and influences value in many different ways. Waste may lead to:

  • Low quality products
  • Poor customer experience
  • High expenditure
  • Use of more time to finish goals
  • Availability of less resources to work on innovations

Root Cause Analysis

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In any lean healthcare system, one of the main tools used is the root cause analysis, which uses 5-Whys method. The benefit of using this method is that it can quickly identify root causes and help in finding out the connection between several root causes. The other benefit of using this method is that it is easy to learn and statistical analysis is not required. In addition to it, root cause analysis is more effective during the initial stages when the problem is being explored.

This process involves asking several “why” questions to trace the problems. Asking multiple questions related to a problem makes users critically analyze the actual causes of wastage as well as inefficiency. At least five questions are asked to figure out the root cause for a problem, though it may require lesser or higher number of questions depending upon the situation.

 Cost Recovery through Lean Implementation

Cost Recovery through Lean Implementation

Every lean implementation tries to gain tangible benefits, generally as cost recovery. The cost recover can be of three types, firstly where you will see direct cost recovery, in second type you will be able to save time due to improvement in processes but it will not lead to recovery of costs and in the third and last type, savings are achieved with instantaneous  capacity optimization.

Failure of LeanHealthcare

On many occasions, it is seen that lean fails to work as required in an organization. Some of the reasons it happens is because the organizations fail to:

  • Fix a consented plan as well as vision at the onset.
  • Develop adequate internal expertise and rely on consultancy support from external vendors.
  • Understand the necessity of changing attitudes to move concurrently with change in processes.
  • Comprehend the way whole pathway functions.


Lean healthcare can be quite useful for reducing wastage and improving productivity. However, you must also keep in mind that it may fail in few circumstances as well.

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