In the Quest for Performance Excellence:

Deployment of Lean Manufacturing Principles in Healthcare Delivery Processes


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Lean / Six Sigma

Joseph Mari
Management Engineer, Virtua Health

Joshua Bosire
Management Engineer, Virtua Health

Tejas Gandhi
Director, Management Engineering, Virtua Health

Shengyong Wang
Professor, Binghamton University

Krishnaswami Srihari
Distinguished Professor, Binghamton University

This presentation will illustrate the deployment of lean manufacturing principles in clinical and office settings. Case studies will be shown for kaizen events conducted to streamline the emergency and radiology processes as well as the recruitment processes of the HR department.

The upward trend in healthcare costs has invigorated the pursuit for a gamut of productivity improvement solutions. This has led to the adoption of concepts like lean manufacturing, a combination of techniques that are often leveraged to facilitate the elimination of waste and the eventual enhancement of the value derived from business processes. Despite being a technique founded in the automotive industry, lean has recorded widespread success in both the manufacturing and service industries. Over the last decade, lean has increasingly infiltrated the healthcare industry and established itself as a potential solution to the predicament of healthcare delivery costs.

This paper illustrates the growing adoption and impact of lean in the healthcare industry. The discussion is based on a lean initiative pursued by a mid-sized health system (Virtua Health) in Southern New Jersey. Cases are cited to illustrate the use of the kaizen approach (a continuous process improvement strategy) to implement lean principles in hospital settings. The discussion covers kaizen events conducted to improve productivity in both clinical and non-clinical processes. These events targeted processes in the (1) emergency room, (2) radiology department, and (3) human resources department, i.e. the recruitment process. Key outcomes included reduced delays for service, enhanced workspaces, average reduction of 6.5 days in time-to-fill job vacancies and an associated savings in recruitment costs of up to $ 200,000 per year.