With the consideration of the fact that the costs in the health care segment are considered to be rising, it is worth noting that a number of approaches and recommendations have been proposed to enhance and improve the effectiveness of the sphere of medicine. One of such recommendations involves the implementation of lean production. The philosophy and ideas that are represented in the lean production derive from the industry of manufacturing.
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Toyota Motors Corporation was the first company that applied this method. The implementation of lean production has already shown beneficial results in the service sector and manufacturing. As a matter of fact, at first, it seems that the principles that are implemented in the working process in manufacturing have no relation to the health care industry; however, it is not so. The primary purpose of this paper is to outline and analyze principles that work in the industry and will complement the health care segment.
The production system that was developed and created by Toyota is functioning in a number of industries and is successfully implemented by many companies worldwide (Osono, Shimizu, & Takeuchi, 2008). The reason for the popularity of the system is that it helps to make the process more productive and significantly reduces costs and expenses in order for the customers to purchase products spending less money. Although the production system was developed by Toyota to satisfy the needs of the manufacturing process, it should be noted that key principles could be implemented in a variety of enterprises. The fundamental aspects include the following ones, namely:
- Elimination of wastes;
- Valuing the working staff;
- Continuous improvement (Edward Deming’s 14 Principles: Business Quality Improvement, 2006).
The stated above principles can be applied to the medical sphere. Mark Graban highlights the fundamental issues and matters of concern:
One thing that hospitals need to keep in mind regarding lean processes is that it is an approach to management, a philosophy for improving and leading organizations. Hospital leaders and clinicians will have concerns about how it transfers to health care, but the key management practices are very transferable (Hutt, 2010, 33).
First and foremost, it is worth noting that the primary focus should receive the problem of elimination of wastes. The actions that do not contribute to the development of the organization should be omitted. This principle can be applied by hospitals as well. The medical establishments should not center on any action that does not improve the quality of delivered care and service (Osono, Shimizu, & Takeuchi, 2008).
According to the philosophy of lean production and management, the employees are an integral part of the process; they make up the company, and thus, should participate in the process of constant improvement. Lean management is beneficial for the reduction of wait times. According to the research, Meadows Regional applied the principles of lean management into the working process and identified over 40 steps that were directed to the reduction of wait times. After two years, due to the efforts and active participation of the employees in the project, the wait times were reduced from 240 minutes to 130 minutes.
The second aspect that can be implemented is an inventory strategy. The idea is that every company or enterprise should keep inventory low and do not waste money on maintenance of the equipment that is not used or is outdated. It can significantly reduce carrying costs. According to the results of the research, Goshen Health System decreased the costs of almost 1,5 million dollars in one year due to the implementation of inventory strategy (Humble, Molesky, & O’Reilly, 2015).
Nowadays, the system of health care does not apply the fundamental ideas of supply management. However, the lean system will make the environment more organized, structured, and will reduce costs and expenses.
Innovations and technological improvement should be taken into consideration because the use of technologies can improve efficiency and facilitate the work of the employees. Inventory strategies are highly intertwined with the implementation of technologies. Digital gadgets can track the use of the equipment and provide unquestionable data, whereas manual inventory is usually associated with high costs, high possibilities of mistakes, high efforts from the employee, and is time-consuming. A digital record system can significantly reduce wait time. The experts came to the conclusion that health care providers spend an impressive amount of time on filling the papers and seeking needed files. Thus, a computerized system is beneficial and should be applied in the working process in order to increase effectiveness.
One of the most interesting distinctive features of lean organizations and traditional ones is that the lean system recognized the power of the employees and aims to provide the workers with opportunities and the ability to make decisions in order to improve effectiveness and innovate the organization. Incentives and bonuses can be used in order to improve performance. Moreover, it should be highlighted that the lean system is centered on the determination of the root causes. Lean companies aim to identify root causes, eliminate problems, and make sure such issues will not arise in the future. The best way to find out the reasons for failure is to ask the question of why it is happening. This principle is actively used in the sphere of manufacturing and should be transferred to the healthcare segment.
The sphere of production is innovative, follows current trends, and aims to forecast future customers’ needs in order to reach success and meet the client’s expectations. The healthcare segment is not as well developed as the sphere of production; however, innovations and pivotal elements that work in the manufacturing sphere can be implemented into the working process of the health care providers in order to improve outcomes. The health care industry should adopt the strategies used by manufacturers in case it helps to increase effectiveness. Medicine and education are two spheres that should receive priority, as the life of the generations is dependent on it.
In conclusion, it should be pointed out that the implementation of the fundamental principles of lean management by Toyota is beneficial and will increase effectiveness and productivity. The sphere of health care should be innovated and improved because high costs and a number of other issues are considered to be the fundamental obstacles on the way to high-quality care delivery. The principles and philosophies that are used in the process of manufacturing can be applied to the medical segment as methods and approaches can be considered as universal. The primary elements for consideration that are described in the paper are partially implemented and show positive results, proving that the principles used in the sphere of manufacturing can complement the current health care segment enhancing the level of productivity and effectiveness.
Edward Deming’s 14 Principles: Business Quality Improvement. (2006). Web.
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Humble, J., Molesky, J., & O’Reilly, B. (2015). Lean Enterprise: How High Performance Organizations Innovate at Scale. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly.
Hutt, M. (2010). Business marketing management: B2B. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.
Osono, E., Shimizu, N., & Takeuchi, H. (2008). Extreme Toyota: Radical contradictions that drive success at the world’s best manufacturer. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.