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Lean Explained

Introducing Lean

The word Lean itself is not an acronym and is not another word for cost cutting or doing more with less.  It was originally coined by John Krafcik a former quality engineer of Toyota and was created whilst writing his MBA.  In its simplest terms Lean is a collection of tools that assist in the identification and elimination of waste (e.g queues, duplication, re-work, waits and delays) and focuses on the customer/patient.  

Lean is a framework that identifies waste in a process (e.g. duplication, errors and work-round solution) and brings people together that understand the issues to come up with the solutions. As waste is eliminated quality improves while productive time and cost are reduced.

It's an opportunity to take a step back and look at what we do to see if the processes that we've been undertaking for years really do add value to patients and staff. One part of the Lean framework is the 5 lean principles which are:

1. Value:
Specify value, this must be defined by the patient.

2. Value Stream:
Identify the value stream/patient journey and the processes that define it.

3. Flow:
Align healthcare processes to facilitate the smooth flow of patients and information.

4. Pull:
Deliver care on demand with the resources needed for it.

5. Perfection:
Develop and amend processes continuously.

Believing in Lean will only happen if you can see the change for yourself. Have a look at Lean Examples to see how it can improve a process; the first example is taking from an RUH lean event in Orthopaedics.

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