Lean thinking in a healthcare system – innovative roles
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Division of Physiology, Faculty of Health, Birmingham City University, 704 Baker Building, Franchise Street, Perry Barr, Birmingham B42 2SU, UK
Division of Heath Policy & Public Health, Department of Community Health and Social Work, Faculty of Health, 713 Baker Building, Birmingham B42 2SU, UK
Ross Cooper   

Division of Physiology, Faculty of Health, Birmingham City University, 704 Baker Building, Franchise Street, Perry Barr, Birmingham B42 2SU, UK.
J Pre Clin Clin Res. 2008;2(2):110–117
This review article is based on an extensive literature search incorporating aspects of lean thinking in a healthcare setting. The rationale of the problem considered is seeking ways to minimise waste, improve efficiency, and create a harmonious working environment within a health care setting. Five hospital specialities were utilised to emphasise the importance of cost-effectiveness of function. Healthcare organizations, through its doctors, nurses, radiographers, pharmacists and other allied professions, the need to be placed in the driving seat by applying equally powerful vectors of change, including choice or commissioning leading to improved patient care. Lean adds value to patient needs, identifies the value stream for every patient group, ensures a continuous patient journey flow; pulls in response to the rate of demand of patients, manages toward perfection, and follows clearly defined steps for assessing patients via assessment, investigation, treatment and discharge. Just in Time, pull production, mistake proofing and six sigma are useful elements. Lean thinking, as a tool, is important strategically to effect a reduction in costs and achieve a high turnaround using the same staff and processes, but in a more effective manner. It requires strong, determined leadership to drive its successful implementation.
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