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Getting Lean with Equipment!

May 5, 2016 - Imagine how inefficient you would be in your job if you had to go hunting for your tools. The best case scenario is, of course, to have the right tools available to you quickly, just at the time when you need them. Then you don’t waste time looking for things while your customer waits.  


Leadership at Lawrence General has received feedback from our nurses and others that our equipment handling process is not meeting their needs and as a result the workflow gets interrupted and patients have to wait. So, Lawrence General’s Lean team has been put on the case, and the project has been given highest priority. 

The idea of Lean, taken from Toyota Production’s process improvement system, actually applies very well to healthcare, where processes are often complex and involve many different people and departments. The concept is to bring all those who touch the process together to look at it, analyze the goals and steps, break it down, find the waste and redesign the process to be more efficient. 

There a team of front line staff uses a “toolbox” of Lean tools to understand how our current system works (or doesn’t) and what the issues are. The team includes an RN, a CNA, a lead transport aide, a logistics manager, an Emergency Center equipment manager, and some occasional members including Environmental services, engineering, bio-medical engineering and clinical nurse leaders. The team is piloting their ideas on H-5. They are observing the current equipment handling process on the unit and inviting the staff there to be involved in the solution development. The ultimate goal is to increase caregivers’ time at the bedside. 

To date, the team has tackled the following projects:
  • A full redesign of one existing storage closet using Lean’s 5S methodology (sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain)
  • A trial program for two additional vital sign machines was put in place on H5
  • A hospital wide inventory of all IV pumps was taken
Thanks to all those involved in this important process redesign, and stay tuned for updates on this team’s progress!

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