Sunday, April 14, 2013

50 Shades of Lean Healthcare: Comparing Lean, 6 Sigma, Quality Improvement, and Lean Startup

Healthcare reform is catalyzing a shift from quantity to quality in healthcare delivery. This change places a substantial financial burden on hospitals because of a contracture in reimbursement over the next 5-10 years.[1]

For hospitals to successfully navigate the changing financial reform, they will need to effectively balance cost cutting with new revenue generation while improving the quality of care. To achieve these objectives, hospitals will need to employ all varieties of lean thinking to eliminate inefficiencies, improve outcomes, and discover commercial value.

The following diagram is a comparison of the major lean approaches and how they can be applied to healthcare. No single approach can be used to solve all problems in cost-effective healthcare delivery. But the combination, particularly the last approach, lean startup, may help hospitals survive and even thrive in the changing healthcare reimbursement landscape.

Comparing Approaches to Improvement [2-4]

 Applying Improvement Approaches to Clinical Innovation


1) Healthcare Industry Leaders: “What is profitable today is not going to be profitable tomorrow.”

2) Moen, R. and Norman, C. “Circling Back: Clearing up myths about the Deming cycle and seeing how it keeps evolving,” Quality Progress November, 2010:22-28.

3) Loyd, R & Balla G. Building an Integrated Approach to Improvement with Lean, Six Sigma and the Model for Improvement. IHI. 2012.

4) Reis E. The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. 2012

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