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.

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.
DIY lean thinking at Malamulele Onward

Lean thinking transforming the lives of African children

FEATURE – At Malamulele Onward in Johannesburg, a do-it-yourself lean transformation is increasing the impact the nonprofit organization is having on South African children living with cerebral palsy.

How to leverage low hanging fruit for long term lean success

FEATURE – The importance of leveraging early successes to drive engagement to lean is often talked about. The story of this Brazilian hospital confirms this is the way to go.
Nurses transforming surgery

How the initiative of nurses transformed a whole department

FEATURE – We can't go wrong when we trust our people to take the initiative that we will improve their work... that's how Siena University Hospital cut its procurement lead-time in Surgery by two-thirds.

Being a learner-in-chief: a lean healthcare leader profiled

PROFILE – Another month, another inspiring profile of a lean practitioner. We were impressed by Dr Billi’s deep conviction in the idea that, first of all, leaders must be learners. You will be too.
lean project intensive care siena hospital

Dedicated patient paths to slash discharge delays

FEATURE – Having dedicated clinical paths for specific types of patients is a well-known method for reducing waiting times. By doing it, Siena University Hospital managed to slash delays by 80%.
lean healthcare hospitals networking

The power of networks – the story of four hospitals

FEATURE – This article shares the lean journeys of four North American hospitals, and their learning's, reminding us that being part of a network of likeminded practitioners is critical to our success.