News story

Healthcare organisations urged: 'Don't give up on 'Lean''

Chertsey, SurreyLearning NewsAmnis

Healthcare organisations - including hospitals - are giving up too soon on 'Lean' based improvement initiatives, according to specialist healthcare quality, innovation and productivity improvement enabler, Amnis.

Amnis' managing director, Mark Eaton, explained: "A number of improvement initiatives underway in the healthcare sector are based on the concepts of 'Lean' and 'Lean Sigma' but, like many organisations in manufacturing where Lean has its origins, there is already evidence that some healthcare organisations are giving up on these initiatives before they realise real results or are simply changing processes and doing nothing to change the underlying culture and behaviours."

According to Eaton - author of the book 'Lean for practitioners' - the top five reasons why this happens are:
1. Lean is not a Board issue but, instead, is launched at divisional or even individual department level. This leads rapidly to fragmentation of activity and dissipation of effort.
2. Not ensuring that the productivity improvements expected through Lean are aligned with the organisation's objectives. This leads to Lean being 'out prioritised' by other activities and put on hold and, once it is on hold, it is one step from being mothballed.
3. Not building on previous experience. This is where Lean tries to undo all of the good things that have gone on - and are currently going on - and this builds resentment from frontline teams.
4. Building reliance on external consultancies or agencies. Building internal capability and, even more importantly, involving a healthcare organisation's frontline teams, is the only way to get Lean out of the textbook and into the clinic.
5. Many organisations simply give up when they encounter problems, resistance or changing priorities because they have not built up the resilience that is needed to get through the initial period of turbulence.

"Starting out by treating Lean as a Board level issue, approaching it in a flexible manner and recognising the difference between changing processes and changing behaviours are the keys to long-term success," said Eaton.

To help organisations to understand how Lean helps drive improvements in quality, innovation and productivity, Amnis runs a number of workshops for executives and front-line teams - including its Accelerated Lean Skills Programme.

In partnership with the Institute of Operations Management, Amnis is running an 'open' version of this programme from 8th to 10th September 2009. For more information, contact Amnis at or call 0870 446 1002.