Lean Healthcare

Lean thinking may have been born in Toyota in the 1950s and 1960s, but it wasn’t until after the year 2000 that a few hospitals began to explore its application to the healthcare industry (lean healthcare). These pioneering organizations came together to share their stories at the first Global Lean Healthcare Summit in the UK in 2007, which in turn triggered many more experiments around the world. Since then, interest has kept growing.

Some fifteen years on, we have hundreds of examples to learn from, from clinics and departments through to entire hospitals and even whole hospital systems. Not all early experiments succeeded, and we are still a long way from making lean a widely recognized way of working across the industry.
Healthcare providers around the world still face huge challenges, as ageing populations and unhealthy lifestyles boost the demand for healthcare faster than the growth of incomes and tax revenues from the middle classes. At the same time, the quality of care has not improved as much as the quality of other services in the economy, which is why more and more healthcare organizations are turning to lean.

Historically, lean healthcare ideas have been applied in large hospitals, but in the past few years we have started to see the philosophy adopted in earnest in many smaller organizations following a do-it-yourself approach that has generated many positive benefits. An impressive example is the Consorci Sanitari del Garraf near Barcelona.

The power of our origin story

PROFILE – Earlier this month, our editor visited the US and sat down with the CEO of a community health center near Boston. His humility and honesty about his lean leadership are striking.

Retaining talent to make a difference

NOTES FROM THE GEMBA – This French company provides support to the severely disabled, and is currently using lean thinking to limit employee turnover and recruit faster.

A CEO’s journey of personal transformation

INTERVIEW - Grey Dube reflects on the approach, challenges and successes of becoming a lean CEO, and on how this helped turn Leratong Hospital into a lean organization.

The Double-Loop PDCA

FEATURE – How “Double-Loop PDCA” was discovered due to a problem with implementing a lean daily management system in a South African hospital.

Lean learning happens across sectors too

FEATURE – The power of cross-pollination: learning from a manufacturing company has helped a cancer treatment center in Brazil to thrive in its lean transformation.

When front-line employees open the eyes of management

INTERVIEW – The CEO of a Scottish health board takes us through the organization’s long lean journey, reminding us that allowing people to take the initiative often leads to the most impressive discoveries.
lean health care lynn

Leveraging lean thinking to make our community healthier

INTERVIEW – The inspirational CEO of a community health center in Massachusetts discusses leadership transition, the role of lean facilitators and front-line engagement.
lean healthcare at Amphia hospital in Holland

How this hospital made nurses its key lean change agents

INTERVIEW – Bringing nurses together and giving them a space to discuss problems on a regular basis has allowed this hospital in Holland to successfully embrace lean thinking and reap its benefits.
lean learning cross fertilization

Learning from one another accelerates our lean progress

FEATURE – By bringing organizations together to regularly share updates on their lean journeys, Instituto Lean Management has managed to create a flourishing lean healthcare community in Catalunya. But hospitals aren't the only ones benefitting.
lean hospital flow Moinhos de Vento

Lean thinking moves mountains in this Brazilian hospital

INTERVIEW – By making lean its way of thinking and acting, a hospital in Porto Alegre, Brazil was able to dramatically improve patient flow and transform its culture.
dedicated clinical path for heart patients at lean hospital

Creating a dedicated pathway for heart patients

INTERVIEW – A cardiologist from a hospital in Salvador de Bahia explains how his department was completely transformed following the introduction of a dedicated pathway for heart patients.
Singapore lean healthcare LGN

Teaching lean to secure the future of Singapore healthcare

FEATURE – After Singapore Institute of Technology staff was introduced to lean thinking, a course was launched to provide healthcare workers with the lean skills they need to transform their organizations.
value stream lean manager

The experience of a value stream manager in a lean hospital

INTERVIEW - What happens in an organization after a move from silos to value streams? In this video, a Value Stream Manager from a Brazilian cancer treatment center shares her experience.
Green Room hoshin kanri lean hospital

A CEO shows us the Obeya room in his hospital

VIDEO - The CEO of a cancer center in Brazil gives us a tour of the their obeya room, taking us through their strategy deployment and explaining how it supports their mission of reducing the burden of cancer.
CSG award taiwan lean healthcare

Barcelona lean hospital given Honorable Mention in Taiwan

INTERVIEW – The Consorci Sanitari del Garraf, a Catalan hospital PL has come to know well over the past few years, just won an Honorable Mention award at the World Hospital Congress.
visual management lean hospital SPDM

A video gemba walk to experience visual tools in a hospital

VIDEO GEMBA WALK - Last week PL went to Brazil. We joined a doctor at the gemba in one of the hospitals we visited and asked her to show us their visual management system in the ER.
LGN lean healthcare initiative

Transforming people to transform the healthcare industry

VIDEO INTERVIEW – Last year, the Lean Global Network launched an initiative to leverage the knowledge of our institutes to positively impact the healthcare industry. We caught up with the group in São Paulo this week.
hospital Aliança lean healthcare

Treating heart attack patients more speedily through lean

FEATURE – Long waiting times are bad for both patients and hospitals, but when we talk about heart attacks reducing them becomes a moral imperative. Here’s how Hospital Aliança in Brazil is doing it.