Using Lean Principles to Manage Throughput on an Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit
ABSTRACT Performance improvement is a mainstay of operations management and maintenance of certification. In this study at a University Hospital inpatient rehabilitation unit, Lean management techniques were used to manage throughput of patients into and out of the inpatient rehabilitation unit. At the start of this process, the average admission time to the rehabilitation unit was 5:00 p.m., with a median time of 3:30 p.m., and no patients received therapy on the day of admission. Within 8 mos, the mean admission time was 1:22 p.m., 50% of the patients were on the rehabilitation unit by 1:00 p.m., and more than 70% of all patients received therapy on the day of admission. Negative variance from this performance was evaluated, the identification of inefficient discharges holding up admissions as a problem was identified, and a Lean workshop was initiated. Once this problem was tackled, the prime objective of 70% of patients receiving therapy on the date of admission was consistently met. Lean management tools are effective in improving throughput on an inpatient rehabilitation unit.
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ABSTRACT: The "lean" approach is a quality improvement method that focuses on maximizing activities that are valued by the customer and eliminating waste that impedes efficiency in the workplace. The unique philosophy of the lean approach encourages all members of the team to be directly involved in identifying areas of waste and generating solutions to eliminate them. When the breast imaging section at the authors' institution became part of a multispecialty breast care center, the result was escalating examination volumes, more complex cases, and overall increased demand on radiologists' time. After several unsuccessful attempts to improve the efficiency of the section, including evaluation by outside consultants, the decision was made to embark on a comprehensive quality improvement program using the lean approach. A team of radiologists, technologists, file room personnel, information technology (IT) representatives, and administrators from the breast imaging section met twice a month to learn about lean principles and how to apply them to screening mammography workflows. Sources of inefficiency (waste) were identified, and potential solutions were generated. Multiple trials were performed to test these solutions. Throughout the process, all team members were engaged in identifying the problems, suggesting solutions, and implementing change. Most of the tested solutions were successful and resulted in decreased patient wait times, improved efficiency for the technologists and radiologists, faster report turnaround, and advances in IT. In addition, staff members were introduced to the lean philosophy and became actively involved in improving their workplace, resulting in a more cohesive section.©RSNA, 2013.Radiographics 06/2013; 33(5). DOI:10.1148/rg.335135017 · 2.73 Impact Factor