If you’re like many people, you think of people and processes when you think of lean initiatives, but sometimes lean is more than that. Sometimes lean thinking is embedded into the very design of buildings themselves. Increasingly, organizations like hospitals and manufacturing plants are using lean principles to develop the architecture of their buildings. For example, many hospitals are now asking the question: how can we design and develop our space in a way that maximizes efficiency, offers the best healthcare possible, and leads to higher patient satisfaction? Many large healthcare institutions are working with lean consulting partners during facility development to think through the different ways in which their physical plants can better support core healthcare processes. Here’s how lean thinking influences building design and how hospitals can capitalize on these insights to generate better results for patients.
Lean initiatives are all about eliminating waste, and in a hospital setting this generally regards sustainable design. Lean planning of this magnitude means thinking ahead and projecting how best to use space and resources. There are multiple ways that these values come into play with space design: from creating spaces that make it easier to move through the steps of established processes to maximizing the useful space available.
Multi-functional spaces help hospitals get more value out of their space, without wasting square footage. One of the best ways to accommodate the bulk of patients and caregivers in a hospital setting is to design spaces that can be used by a variety of caregivers and serve a range of different functions. Additionally, special hubs can be built throughout the facility to promote communication–one of the most essential aspects to any lean strategy. ER and exam rooms should be adjacent to prep and recovery rooms. This enables the staff to flex back and forth depending on a patient’s needs, essentially forming one universal care platform.
The patient should be at the forefront of any lean planning in a healthcare setting. Sharing space and resources allows caregivers to deliver a wide range of skill sets to the patient in one consolidated care effort. A flexibly designed space will allow a patient to remain in one room while equipment is brought in and out. There should be as little idle space as possible. The universal care concept and sustainable lean planning will reduce costs, save space, and decrease the amount of energy put into treating each patient, while ensuring the highest level of care is provided. Lean design focuses on creating space that maximizes the patient experience.
A lean design approach that takes patient comfort as a central tenant means listening to the voice of the customer. Sustainable lean planning is about increasing a patient’s well-being and level of comfort. A lean consultant can survey and question patients and staff to find opportunities to focus on in this area. It’s also possible to look at historical performance data and feedback to identify areas for improvement. Comfort is part of the overall patient experience, and when your most important goal is offering quality patient care, comfort becomes a key consideration. By focusing on this through the lens of lean management, it’s possible to identify which areas will have the most impact and streamline investments. Patients and staff end up with a more efficient and pleasant hospital, while administrative staff maximizes the ROI on their investments.
Hospitals are inherently chaotic and busy. One of the main issues healthcare staff have when adopting lean strategies is setting aside the time that’s needed to change processes. Although some organizations assign a head nurse or practitioner, doing so ultimately pulls them away from the important jobs they are already doing–caring for patients.
A consultant has an outside perspective, and can help bring best practices to bear on solving a hospital’s most critical challenges. Sustainable lean planning is about reducing waste over time and using resources most efficiently. Understanding operational processes is at the core of lean planning, and a consultant can help you create an objective and sustainable planning process.
Are you a healthcare leader thinking through the best way to maximize your resources during new construction or during a building renovation? Contact Incito Consulting today to learn more about our experience helping healthcare leaders implement lean initiatives.