-2,0,1
Search

Operational Excellence

Critical hospital functions are undergoing an unprecedented shift. Changes are constant, driven by Accountable Care Act (ACA) reform and emerging reimbursement models. And in a complex healthcare economy, continuous improvements in the delivery of patient care has never been more important.

It's That Simple — and That Complex

The concept of Lean is a simple one: Eliminate non-value-added activities. Done right, Lean changes organizations, delivering real results that spur even more transformations. There can literally be hundreds of staff tasks involved, along many different touch points, with multiple hand offs just to deliver a single service to a patient. That is decidedly NOT simple.

The Lean lens easily highlights the non-value-added activities, the process reveals opportunities, and the people involved are empowered to create improvements. And that leads to results that really stick.

Better Results: Two Examples of Optimizing Care Delivery with Lean

Perioperative Department: Through process flow analysis, a mid-sized hospital in a large health system discovered that patients presenting for surgery services experienced disruptions in service, cancellations, and long waits when they showed up for their procedure without appropriate clearance. By engaging everyone in the Lean process improvement cycle — from the surgeon to anesthesiologists to specialists to perioperative services staff — the hospital was able to reduce the number of cancellations and delays due to patient optimization to zero.

Other improvements the hospital achieved, proving the gains are being sustained or further improved, include:

  • 68 percent reduction in surgical readmission rates
  • 17 percent reduction in surgery suite turnover times
  • 10 percent reduction in total cost per case
  • 60 percent reduction in time to assemble surgical trays with just in time zero defect case cart delivery to the surgery suite


Emergency Department: Through process flow analysis, a mid-sized hospital in a large health system discovered that patients presenting to the emergency department with behavioral health problems were waiting an average of 638 minutes for a psychiatric assessment. By engaging everyone in the Lean process improvement cycle — from the emergency department medical director to emergency nursing staff to the psychiatric social worker — the hospital was able to reduce the time from arrival to assessment to 216 minutes — a sustainable 66 percent improvement within one week.

The hospital achieved other improvements, proving the gains are being sustained or further enhanced, include:

  • 95 percent reduction in the time nurses spend searching for supplies and equipment
  • 77 percent reduction in door-to-bed times
  • 13 percent reduction in the overall ED length of stay by using Lean forecasting tools to predict surges in patient arrival rates
  • 30 percent reduction in ED length of stay for medium intensity (ESI level 3) patients by engaging the ED providers, nurses, and technicians to create standard work for delivering care to this patient population

Radical change isn't easy, but it is possible. And when it begins, it creates a snowball effect that builds greater commitment — a strong and tangible commitment that will power your Lean journey — from everyone involved. Contact us to get started.