J Clin Outcomes Manage
Creating value in health care: the case for lean thinking
Kim CS, Spahliner DA, Billi JE
Abstract Objective: To describe how Lean Thinking, an industry-based quality management model, offers health care organizations a methodologic and strategic approach to provide greater value to patients. Methods: Commentary with review of the literature. Results: The Lean Thinking model is built on a foundation of creating stability within the health care organization and standardizing the process steps involved in providing clinical care where possible. This allows for continuous learning through implementation of the PDSA cycle. The ongoing Lean Thinking work is supported by the ideas of just-in-time production and built-in quality, which help to produce the right work in the right quantity at the right time. The focus of Lean Thinking is to foster an organization that is committed to finding better ways to serve and care for its patients. Workers are encouraged to be mindful of problems that can arise and empowered to explore their work processes further to identify opportunities to improve. Conclusion: The future is likely to place greater pressures on health care organizations to meet specific quality, safety, efficiency, service, and appropriateness measures. Lean Thinking may provide the means for organizations to create greater value in their health care delivery mission.
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