Using Manufacturing Principles to Get LEAN


Imagine you’re the third parent to call in to the pediatrician’s office one morning, to make an appointment for your child, and being told you had to wait 60 days to get your child in to see a doctor.  Or, imagine your doctor tells you that your screening mammogram looked suspicious and you need some follow up tests, but you can’t have those tests for about 20 days.
Unacceptable, right?  That’s what the doctors and staff at Borgess Ambulatory Care thought too.  This Kalamazoo-area organization applied to take part in a Lean Collaboration offered through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.  The Lean process improvement method, first used in the manufacturing industry, is a systematic way to analyze an organization’s processes and procedures, and find more efficient ways of doing them. 
It is a long, complicated process that requires entire staffs to break down their typical processes into a series of individual steps.  Once these processes are mapped out, the staff finds ways to reduce steps, reduce variation, and create efficiencies.
Through the Blue Cross Blue Shield Lean Collaborative, the physicians and office staff at Borgess Ambulatory Care received intensive multi-day training from the University of Michigan Health System’s Lean experts.  The lessons learned from this training session have carried on, and Borgess Ambulatory Care now has its own Lean expert to continue the Lean process.
The results so far are outstanding.  That 60-day wait for a pediatrician is now down to 8 days.  The 20-day wait for mammogram follow-up testing is now down to 3 days.  The group also has reduced patient waiting time in their urgent care areas, and they have increased patient satisfaction.

And they continue to make improvements, step by step.  It’s exactly the kind of progress that can be made when health organizations collaborate, share best practices, and help each other improve.  To read more about this Lean success story, see the article in the News Release section. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *