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What is Lean Healthcare?
Healthcare companies operate in a highly regulated manufacturing environments, which often necessitate a great deal of resources, time and money, being expended in the testing, release and Quality Assurance of their products. In recent years there has been a drive to adopt a more Lean approach both in the manufacturing and testing of products. The advances in Lean thinking developed and refined in the automotive industry initially by Toyota (TPS), are now being used as best practices across all manufacturing sector. Lean Laboratory shares its origins with Lean Manufacturing and utilizes the same tools to deliver the most efficient and least wasteful process. Tools such as Kaizen, Just In Time (JIT), Heijunka and Six Sigma.
The principles of lean manufacturing have been slow to migrate to laboratories because they are quite different from manufacturing environments. While most of the key principles of traditional Lean still apply, there are many unique challenges involved in effectively implementing them in laboratories. Compared to manufacturing environments most analytical and microbiological laboratories have a relatively low volume of samples but a high degree of variability and complexity. Many standard lean tools are not a good fit, however Lean can be applied to labs. A generic approach is not suitable for laboratories but careful adaptation of the techniques based on a thorough understanding of Lab operations will deliver significant benefits in terms of cost or speed or both.
It is a common occurrence for testing laboratories to suffer from long and variable lead times. Some of the problems or issues can be attributed to conventional or “non lean” laboratories are:
Lack of focus
Analysts and Microbiologists are typically focused on test accuracy and individual test run efficiency. Very often, personnel are dedicated to specific tests and there is little or no control of the progress of individual samples through a sometimes highly variable test routing that can be dependent on product type and/or the intended market.
Long and variable lead times
In many test laboratories, it is normal to find queues in front of each test where individual samples wait until enough similar samples arrive to constitute an ‘efficient test run’. This approach causes long and variable lead times and, contrary to popular belief, does not result in higher productivity.
Ineffective 'fast track' systems
To deal with the long lead times, ‘Fast Track’ systems are often developed in an effort to deal with urgent samples but these often become unworkable. Frequently, the proportion of samples designated as priority becomes so large that ‘fast tracking’ quickly becomes ineffective.
High levels of WIP
Laboratories often maintain high levels of work in process (WIP) which inevitably results in lots of (non value adding) effort being expended in controlling, tracking and prioritizing samples and in planning analyst work. Companies often respond to this situation by investing in a "Laboratory Information Management System" (LIMS) or some other IT system. However these systems do not in themselves improve performance. The underlying process by which work is organized and moves through the lab must first be re-engineered based on lean principles.
Volatile incoming workload
For many testing laboratories the incoming workload is inherently volatile with significant peaks and dips. This causes low productivity (during dips) and/or poor lead time performance (during peaks). Very often the capacity of the lab is not well understood and there is no mechanism to level or smooth the workload.
Learn About Some of the Lean Tools:
Lean Overviews – 1 day – 2 programs with different emphasis and examples:
Certificate Program – 5 day program with comprehensive presentation of lean tools &
GRT Certificates - Plan projects - Measurable results
What is Six Sigma?
Six Sigma seeks to identify and remove the causes of defects and errors in manufacturing and business processes. It uses a set of quality management methods, including statistical methods, and creates a special infrastructure of people within the organization ("Black Belts" etc.) who are experts in these methods. Each Six Sigma project carried out within an organization follows a defined sequence of steps and has quantified financial targets (cost reduction or profit increase).
Six Sigma Black Belt – 20 days – includes both manufacturing & service examples
& applications. Participants receive a GRT Certificate - Implement projects – Achieve
measurable results - Prepare for ASQ Certification
Belt Exam Prep – 3 days – prepares black belt trained
candidates to take the ASQ exam.
Six Sigma Green Belt – 5 days – 2 programs with different emphasis and examples. Participants receive a GRT Certificate - Plan projects – Achieve
What is Lean Sigma?
Lean Sigma is a management methodoligy blending the core tools of Lean Operations and Six Sigma. Lean will reduce waste in your operations increasing productiity, while Six Sigma will reduce errors and scrap leading to cost reductions.
GRT offers a complete curriculum of Quality & Continuous Improvement
workshops & seminars to meet the HRD needs of your entire organization.