Proving that there is an absolutely great payoff for bringing leaner thinking on-board his reader’s company, “Lean Blog” writer, Mark Graban, discussed lean (more specifically, continuous improvement), the PDCA process, and the need for going to the gemba in his blog post, titled “Lean Effort Pays Big” in a Colorado Springs Hospital.
Via info from Memorial Health System (MHS) staffer, Justin Lewis, Graban noted that Lewis’ employer incorporated a lean production system into its everyday business. This ideology included principles of “continuous improvement and respect for people” as Graban explains, in order to deal with issues related to the radiology department’s flow and performance.
Through Lewis’ data, Graban cites an overview of the hospital’s successful results:
▪ CT scans increased by 5 scans per day (with additional capacity to schedule another 5 per day)
▪ Reductions in waiting times for CT scheduling and registration
▪ Process improvements that led to fewer insurance billing denials and increased billing — millions of dollars per year in financial impact
Gemba: Find the source of waste with Gemba Walks.
Gemba, or “the real place,” is where value gets created at your business. A Gemba Walk is the Lean manufacturing method that requires management to head to the production floor to see how processes are actually working. This guide explains the importance of Gemba and how to prepare for your very own Gemba walk.
Pondering about the process improvements for billing as well as revenue increases vs cost reduction, Graban points out that the lean results are “…far more palatable than resorting to the traditional healthcare cost cutting and layoffs.”
Graban discussed how MHS’s use of the PDCA model and visiting the gemba, or place of action, benefited the system, even though it had challenges and criticism “out of the gate” which threatened the potential for bringing a new way of doing things to fruition. Ultimately, the staff at MHS decided that the benefits far outweighed the risks initially perceived.