KAIZEN™ in Healthcare

1.    Are rising healthcare costs impacting your hospital’s quality of care?

2.    How can better quality cost less?

3.    How does personal satisfaction on the job impact productivity & quality?

4.    Why does a hospital typically have departmental silos?

5.    How can we avoid repeating the same mistakes?

6.    Is high percentage of leadership time spent on expediting, fire fighting or working around problems?

If you are pondering over above mentioned questions; it is time to consider ‘KAIZEN™ way of thinking’. In order to impact the bigger picture, one has to start with smaller steps.

KAIZEN™ is a culture, a management system, and a philosophy that can change the way hospitals are organized & managed. It is a methodology that allows hospitals to improve the quality of care for patients by reducing errors & waiting times. KAIZEN™ is an approach that can support employees & physicians, eliminating roadblocks & allowing them to focus on providing care. KAIZEN™ is a system for strengthening hospital organizations for the long term – reducing costs & risks while also facilitating growth & expansion. KAIZEN™ helps break down barriers between disconnected departmental ‘silos’, allowing different hospital departments to better work together for the benefit of patients.

Benefits of Implementing KAIZEN™ in Healthcare

1. Better quality at lower costs

- Rather than reducing spending by slashing payments or providing less care, KAIZEN™ methods allows one to                 reduce the actual cost of providing care, allowing one to provide more service & care to the community.
- Reports estimate that 13% to 20% of a hospital’s costs are due to ‘inefficient practices within control of the               hospital.’ KAIZEN™ approach attacks these Muda to reduce costs, by improving flow & quality.

2. Improved quality of healthcare delivery and safety

- Improved housekeeping/ hygiene
- Fewer mistakes, accidents and errors resulting in better patient care.

3. Improved delivery and/or throughput

- Due to KAIZEN™, employees flow or pull system of information and materials; each patient is worked with, one unit at   a time and passed on for the next step of the process without any delay. All blockages and obstacles to flow are         identified and removed in KAIZEN™, hence, the number of patients attended to will increase while working with same     equipment in the same facilities by just working on the processes. Work will be done faster.
- Improved FLOW of treatment to patients – in time, in full, error free!

4. Accelerating momentum

- Creating a stable working environment with a clear vision, standardized procedures that create the foundation for       continuous improvement to attain world class performance.
- Standardizing processes and improving flow to make sure emergency patients are treated with the right protocols       without major delays.
- The entire healthcare workforce becomes motivated and understands that, when they are at work, they are actually   identifying, creating and delivering value for their patients and nothing else and feels to be part of the success.
- Reducing waiting time for patients; patient check in & check out time & admin efforts to do so.

5. Improvements in store/ pharmacy

- Ensuring pharmacies have optimum level of stocks that medications are never stocked out at the point of use & to -   avoid losses due to expiry of drugs etc.
- Better laboratories layout and processes to give test results to physicians and patients in dramatically faster times     measured in minutes instead of hours.
- Error proofing processes to help prevent medication errors. 

KAIZEN™ is everyday & everywhere across the business covering marketing, design, manufacturing & after sales support. It offers hard financial benefits & more importantly softer benefits relating to team work, employee involvement & culture change which is an absolute must to sustain the hard benefits.

KAIZEN™ concepts address following listed (but not limited to this only) common problems faced by hospitals:

  1. Deliveries of supplies delayed because of improper ordering
  2. Mix-ups in getting supplies
  3. Articles returned by other departments because they were not made correctly
  4. Employees have difficulty in handling new type equipment
  5. Limited storage space not properly used
  6. Safety equipment not being used
  7. Minor injuries/ illnesses not reported
  8. Correct procedures not followed
  9. Employees leave to go to other hospitals
  10. Employees pass the buck – let the other

Enlisted are areas in hospital where KAIZEN™ concepts can be helpful:

  1. Laboratory & histology
  2. Pharmacy
  3. Emergency department
  4. Operative services
  5. Housekeeping
  6. Behavioral health
  7. Medical surgical nursing
  8. Telemetry
  9. Clinic operations
  10. Business office
  11. Health information management

Author: Jayanth Murthy

In case you missed it, my last post was The Spirit of Mottainai in Lean

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