Lean Streamlining and Modeling of Operations

Lean Streamlining and Modeling of Operations in emergency departments, operating rooms, clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, supply chain & administration

Lean Thinking

Lean Thinking, or Lean for short, originated in Toyota factories and evolved to practically all domains: healthcare, engineering, science, administration, supply chain, government, banking, aviation, and many others.  Lean has proven itself as hugely effective methodology for identifying waste and eliminating it from work processes.  Entire medical organizations (e.g., Theda Care) have been transformed with Lean.  Lean is now an established paradigm for improving healthcare operations.

Lean has proven itself in vastly reducing turnaround time of clinical tests, the time spent by patients in Emergency Departments, Operating Suites, Pharmacies and Clinics.  Lean routinely finds cost and time savings on the order of 30-50% or more, and quality always goes up.  Lean is so effective because the amount of waste in traditional work organizations is huge, varying between 30-90% or more.  Experts agree that in healthcare at least 30% of time and effort is on wasteful activities.   

Lean does not mean that people have to work faster or "attach roller blades to move around faster".  In Lean systems employees work at their regular ergonomic and intellectual speeds.  The savings come from finding and eliminating idle states (e.g., waiting in various queues in the Emergency departments), reduction of mistakes and rework, reductions of non-value adding tasks, more streamlined movements of patients and supplies.  In Lean systems providers have more professional time with the patients and spend less time on bureaucracy, walking, or on computers.  And, most emphatically, Lean does not mean mean layoffs.  Quite the opposite is true: Lean vastly improves human relations at work, teamwork, and cooperation and moves away from the traditional "blaming and shaming" culture prevalent in healthcare.   

LMU is a national leader in Lean.  The faculty wrote or co-wrote three major books on Lean which have been awarded two Shingo Awards, INCOSE Fellowship, Best Product Award, and many other recognitions.  LMU has been helping many departments of Kaiser Permanente in becoming Lean, including 11 clinical laboratories, several emergency departments, supply chain, Point-of-Care, phlebotomy, and the list is growing.  

The LMU Healthcare Systems Engineering Master's Program includes two courses on Lean: Lean Healthcare, and Advanced Lean Management of Healthcare.   They represent the state of the art and the most advanced education of this important methodology.  The students completing the two courses will have enough knowledge to improve operations in clinics, hospitals, emergency departments, operating suites, pharmacies, supply chain, healthcare administration, and other healthcare-related applications.   

Modeling of Operations

The course Modeling and Simulations in Healthcare teaches both stochastic modeling and physical modeling of operations.  Students develop models of operations using stochastic modeling techniques to study capacity and resource allocation effectiveness.  Typical addressed questions include, e.g.:  "if we add two nurses to the ED, how many more patients will we be able to serve in an average 24 hour period?".  The emphasis is on looking at complex ED operations as a system consisting of patients, providers, nurses, environmental and pharmacy support, transporters, laboratory services, and hospitals.   

Students also study how to implement and use physical simulators (such as the popular Flight Simulator) for training and optimization of healthcare operations in emergency departments, operating suites, and other operations.  Students do not develop physical simulators, but they learn how to implement and use them.  

The Lean methodologies and simulations are increasingly critical in addressing complex challenges of modern healthcare.