A combination of technology and Lean makes for more efficient hospitals

Hospitals and other healthcare organizations are going through some radical changes. Part of this is brought on by the push to adopt new medical technologies, such as electronic health records. Another influencing factor is the desire to do more with less – many healthcare organizations are dealing with more patients as aging Baby Boomers continue to develop more medical needs.

Kaiser Permanente recently noted this shift and outlined a number of strategies that are helping healthcare organizations acclimate to these new demands. Called the CEO Checklist for High-Value Healthcare, the whitepaper draws feedback and advice from a number of major healthcare organizations, ranging from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center to Partners Healthcare.

Prominent among the research's key points is the importance of Lean healthcare. For those who purchase healthcare, costs are rising and they want more value for these services. Lean is crucial to bolstering efficiency, which enables healthcare providers to give patients that added level of value. It can also help organizations realize significant financial benefits.

“Senior leadership that is committed, visible and determined; institutional culture of continuous improvement and real-time learning; optimized resource utilization to reduce waste; and internal transparency on performance, outcomes and cost” are just a few of the Lean strategies the research promotes for hospitals looking to implement Lean healthcare.

As for results, Denver Health noted savings of $158 million since 2006, when the company first integrated Lean improvement activities, the report found.

Lean healthcare abroad

While the majority of companies participating in the Kaiser Permanente research were based out of the United States, Lean healthcare isn't just a trend gaining popularity in America – it is gaining traction worldwide. For example, Canadian premier Brad Wall is encouraging Saskatchewan healthcare providers to integrate Lean management techniques, The Huffington Post reports.

Wall was quick to note that Lean techniques have been linked with the reduction of wait times and improved experiences among patients, while also helping hospitals save money. One healthcare organization in the province has saved more than $10 million simply by changing the way the blood supply is managed.

“It can have big results or incremental results, but that's part of innovation too,” Wall added.