My Take Tuesday – (Not So) Lean Medical Practice


I few weeks ago I wrote an article on why being the best still isn’t good enough talking about how a medical practice that is in the top 2% of the country still had room for improvement. The issue is that there is no motivation to change but as a patient it takes me an hour to visit the doctor for something that takes only 30 minutes. Medical clinics typically have three main concerns:

I) Patient Care
II) The Bottom Line
III) Quality of Life for the Doctor(s)

A Lean business system address all of these concerns. In a Lean business system you’ll have a 4 prong attack to your problems:

1) Optimize Patient Flow
2) Remove Waste
3) Engage Employees
4) Continuous improvement

Optimize Patient Flow: Most clinics are setup up by departments. You have a font office (receptionist, assistants), nurses, and doctors. Optimizing patient flow comes from building around the patient. Find how patients can flow smoothly from one step to the next with little or no wait.

Remove Waste: Waste is anything the patient isn’t willing to pay you to do. Some examples include waiting, come back in to the office because the diagnosis is wrong (this is a waste but because of insurance payments it may be more profitable to to have patients come back for revisits), excess walking for your staff. With removing wastes the small incremental changes make a huge difference in the long run.

Engage Employees: There is a lot of goodness in engaging employees. Engaging employees is a factor in motivating employees without money. If employees are engaged you are likely to have to come up with solutions yourself. You have the team come up with solutions after giving them problem solving training.

Continuously Improve: The goal is to be a little better today then you were yesterday. Small incremental improvements add up over time. In combination with optimizing flow, removing waste, and engaging employees you develop a business system that will put you far ahead of the competition.


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