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Lean Hospital – Bring the Capabilities of the Toyota Production System to Bear on Your Hospital

Patient Focused Hospitals are the future.


Operate your hospital like Toyota runs their business

It is possible that Toyota is the best run company in the world. First of all, thankfully for other companies they are narrowly focused in the automobile industry. If they focused on hospitals, they would potentially run everyone else out of business. Toyota is constantly changing and adapting to their competitive environment. There is no more competitive environment than a hospital.

If you run your hospital like Toyota runs their business your hospital will be profitable, doctors will fight to get into your surgery, your emergency room will flow patients in, your nurses will love working there, and you will drive Hospital Acquired Infections to zero.

Your Customer

Lean Six Sigma defines a customer as the entity that pays you. Usually a customer is who rates you and this is where it gets confusing at a hospital. There are three entities that a hospital serves. First is the entity that pays the hospital, which is the insurance company. Next, our doctors who bring the revenue to the hospital. Lastly, are the patients that feel the effect of hospital performance.

The Power of a Goal

Sometimes when you have a goal you actually end up accomplishing more than you expect. Let’s use Toyota as an example. Toyota went to Lean Production (which means they manage inventory to a very low level). They originally focused on removing defects. They removed defects in order to decrease the amount of physical waste they produced. Japan was poor at that time so the company could not afford to make bad parts.

Toyota focused on defect reduction in the order to minimize defective parts. They did not focus on defect reduction to win JD Powers awards, but they did.

Patient Focused Hospital

if your hospital focuses solely on patients you will see patient flow increase. That will satisfy doctors. If a hospital focuses on removing defects patients will exit in better health. Also, your liability insurance and litigation costs will decrease. There are many ancillary advantages to becoming a Patient Focused Hospital.

The Toyota Production System benefits applied to hospitals.

I will use some analogies here to demonstrate the applicable he of the Toyota Production System to the workings of the hospital:

Andon or Defect Reduction leads to a Patient Safety Program thereby reducing trial liability and insurance costs by 74%
The Theory of Constraints applies to an Emergency Department thereby cutting Emergency Room stays by 50% (81.8% of unscheduled hospital admissions come through the Emergency Department)
Standard Work  drives HAIs (Hospital Acquired Infections) to ZERO
1 x 1 Flow retains 98% of nurses
Poka yoke reduces errors in surgery


Win a Malcolm Baldridge Award

The Malcolm Baldridge Award is given to businesses that have exceptional processes. There is a cap Malcom Baldridge Award that targets hospitals and hospitals that have one the Malcom Baldridge Award are exceptional. Ask yourself, if you have great nurses, great doctors, great administration, and poor processes, are you a great hospital?

I researched a hospital in California that touted their excellence while also making patients wait 20 hours in the Emergency Department before being moved into the hospital. One Baldridge Award winning hospital averages five hours to do the same thing. To be fair, it may not be a fair direct comparison but it sure makes you wonder what’s happening to those poor patients for 20 hours.

The Malcolm Baldridge Award is the type of award that you can see wonderful benefits from just attempting to get the award. One of the nice things about the Malcolm Baldridge Award is they will periodically send experts out to your hospital to give you guidance on where you stand.


  Failures of San Diego Hospitals because they don’t use Lean Six Sigma

(Misery Indexes Included)


A Lean Hospital sees the hospital from a patients point of view

A Value Stream looks at a Hospital system that is made of processes.  Once Value Stream performance is studied the most offending processes are targeted for improvement,  Time is then removed from processes by streamlining.  Patients spend less time in pain and have everyone at the hospital be their advocate through the PSP (Patient Safety Program).  The PSP supports patients and decreases liability and insurance costs for the hospital.

In conclusion, A Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt is a master of the process. Let me lead healthcare to an efficient, quality driven future.


Related Videos

Kata: Policy Propagation, Realization, & Continuous Improvement

Lean Hospital – Using the Toyota Production System

Lean Hospital Supports Patient Focused Healthcare


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