Lean is applicable for hospital sector also

Lean Management that was developed more than forty years ago at Toyota to improve the production system of cars is also applicable to any kind of other industry, also the hospital and rehabilitation sector. Lean Management is appearing more and more in the service industries, and Dr. Hole also introduced Lean Management at one Lean project within the rehabilitation sector. If we see outside the boarder of Norway one see also that Lean Management has begun to take up root in the hospitals industry. Why it has not taken root in Norway is most likely due to the professional fight that is within the hospital sector in Norway.  Dr. Hole has implemented Lean Management within several different sectors such as, media, transport, distribution, logistics, offices, procurement, accounting, electrical sector etc.


What is Lean management? Lean management is a practice for progress in industry that was developed in the 1950s at Toyota (Toyota Production System).

Lean is based on three overriding concepts:

  1. Improvement of the organization based on adding value as it is perceived by the customer
  2. The practice must allow those who create the added value to work better
  3. A managerial approach, it introduces team working and motivation around shared objectives recognized by all as being essential to progress. On this basis Lean management leads to innovating by better working practices that become the new standards, sowing the seed. Replicating these innovations in the business beyond the single local pilot scheme.

The contribution of Lean practice can be used in a hospital’s improvement projects where one put patients first. By using Lean Management in hospital it will contributes to put the expectations of patients at the center of the procedures for improving the hospitals service: getting an appointment quickly, understanding the consequences of their treatment, knowing how long they will stay in hospital, being able to choose their meals etc. These basic patient requirements will no longer be unmet due to operational constraints but will be incentives for changing the organization of the hospital. Lean practice is also centered on improving the quality of the product or service by rigorously analyzing the causes for failure and checking the procedures for continuous improvement. The focus on improving quality as perceived by the patient results will improve overall hospital performance. Methodologies that can easily be appropriated within the hospital sector by the various professions where one can incorporate Lean practice. Of course, as a professional university hospital is very different to the manufacturing environment in which Lean was first developed. For example, in a hospital there is often no shared vision between the various participants in measuring the performance of the hospital. And the relationship of staff with the patient is radically different from the relationship between the worker and his product. Such differences can be an asset to Lean practice. It can endeavors to make the choice of the quality criteria for the patient a factor in motivating all the staff at the hospital in the procedure for progress. Lean practice is not only an action in the emergency department, it only makes sense if it makes in-depth changes of the process for continuous improvement across the hospital. How can the improvements of the patient experience in one departments and surgery department be replicated and adapted to all departments? The hope is that Lean will finally provide the means to reconcile those hospital staff responsible for quality systems with those concerned with improving efficiency.

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