/Webinar: lean healthcare vs the Coronavirus

Webinar: lean healthcare vs the Coronavirus

WEBINAR – Last month, the Lean Management Instituut in Holland organized a webinar to discuss the response of lean healthcare organizations to the Coronavirus. Today we are repurposing for you all.

Participants: René Aernoudts, Lean Management Instituut; Michael Ballé, lean author, executive coach, co-founder of Institut Lean France; Oriol Cuatrecasas and Cristina Fortcuberta Adalid, Instituto Lean Management, Barcelona.

Moderator: Roberto Priolo, Managing Editor, Planet Lean.

Below, Cristina Fontcuberta answers the questions there was no time for during the webinar.

This webinar was inspired by this article.

QUESTION 1 – In the recent weeks, Lean has been criticized in relation to the Covid-19 situation, particularly on the ideas of ‘Just In Time’ and low i  In response to this criticism, many people in the Lean Community immediately jumped into defense mode and claimed that lean is not well understood or applied correctly. Instead of being defensive, shouldn’t we ask ourselves what we could have done better to make lean better understood? What are your thoughts on this?

Cristina: Criticism is good! As Michael Ballé highlighted, the focus of lean is not (only) on low inventory, but on flow too. We should be asking what the right quantity is that allows the whole supply to continue running and flowing – in our case, to guarantee the continuous supply of PPE to healthcare organizations. With Covid-19, demand increased too much and too quickly for the system to respond effectively. Levels of inventory (buffers, safety stocks, etc) tend not to take into account such extreme situations. Ultimately, it is about how coordinated, well designed and “lean” a supply chain is – end to end, and we clearly have a long way to go in that area.

QUESTION 2 – I am from Oman. How can we use these tools to protect our work at the Port of Salalah APM TERMINALS during the Covid-19 crisis?

Cristina: The beauty of lean techniques and principles is that they are universal in their application. There is no reason why the PPE and lean tools in use in healthcare organizations would not work in your context.

QUESTION 3 – What is the most impressive story of handling the catastrophy did you hear from people on the frontline?

Cristina: The one Oriol mentioned during the webinar about the Consorci Sanitari Alt Penedès-Garraf hospital, which managed to create a small manufacturing site to produce PPE and supply to the hospital and the surrounding area. You can read their story here.

QUESTION 4 – With PPE, wouldn’t it be “leaner” to check if it can be disinfected and reused?

Cristina: I know people like you and I – not working in hospitals – are using this method to make masks reusable, at least for a little while longer. However, I am not sure if and how hospitals are doing this. How feasible is it for them to do so efficiently in the middle of a crisis? Not to mention the need to also calculate those “hidden costs” like the consumption of water/electricity/disinfectant to thoroughly sterilize a used face mask.

QUESTION 5 – What about economical impact? Do you think lean organization will be able to recover easier than other companies?

Cristina: There is no doubt the impact will be huge, and that several organizations will go bankrupt. In previous crises (like the economy crisis of 2009), however, “lean organizations” proved they have what it takes to overcome difficult situations. Having less waste in their processes, a problem-solving culture and a management system that enables quick, concerted decision-making makes them more flexible and able to adapt swiftly to changing circumstances. Using resources more efficiently and being able to learn fast will be determining whether or not an organization can survive.

QUESTION 6 – Why, if we all agree lean is so important in COVID time, lean people are not part of any crisis team inside our organizations?

Cristina: I think they are very much a part of the response team. Due to the danger posed by this highly contagious virus, many lean coaches were not able to be at the gemba in the emergency phase, but did all they could to help from a distance. It also depends on what you expect from the lean people in a company. I believe that, ultimately, their role is to make others autonomous in their ability to solve problems. Here in Catalonia, we have supported the personal transformations of many doctors and nurses who are now fighting at the front line using all the lean knowledge they have gathered over the years.