Lean And The Healthcare Sector – Improved Health Services Outcomes Through Key Process Transformations

In this Blog… we look at the impact that Lean Six Sigma (LSS) can have for your organisation – wherever you sit in the health care sector.

What niche does your organisation or company occupy in the health sector?
Whatever it is – Lean Six Sigma (LSS) has a role to play in reducing waste and inefficiencies, reducing defects in your systems and processes, solving problems – and providing a framework, processes and easy to implement tools.


Let’s take a look!


This industry sector has been fertile ground for LSS implementations – with good reason… Take a look at some of the applications here to see what we mean…

Aligning, Improving Key Measures

A health care service implemented an improvement framework to shape a culture of quality and performance excellence. It evolved as a process to help align and improve the work of the organisation on key performance measures. This was especially the case in the emergency department with wait times significantly shortened to meet competitive challenges.

Non-reporting of Medication Errors – An LSS Implementation to Improve Patient Safety

A hospital quality improvement project was established when unreported medication errors came to light. A cross-functional team was formed to determine the causes and identify potential improvements. This process also changed the staff culture from fearful non-reporting to a more involved staff. Patient safety was the really big winner.

Medical Staff Improve Patient Experience

A collaboration between medical staff at a hospital looked to improve the patient experience in the emergency room – at the same time reducing litigation risks. The identified and implemented a number of process improvements to decrease patient complaints prior to ER discharge by almost 90 percent.

Eliminating Emergency Department Congestion in a Hospital Cluster

Six urban hospitals that cluster to serve mental health and addiction patients collaborated to overcome emergency department congestion. More than 80 staff from the hospitals used Lean tools to benchmark and standardise work activities. Technical changes were implemented along with a set of critical success factors reshape the operational culture.

Development of a Culture of Patient Safety

An LSS implementation set out to develop a culture of patient safety and improved communication among staff at a local hospital. It used the TeamSTEPPS™ program as a teamwork system based on lessons learned from “high-reliability organizations,” to implement a successful cultural change.

Reduced Waiting Time for MRI Exams Provides a Competitive Edge

The Radiology Department at a large city hospital used Lean Six Sigma to reduce wait times for MRI exams by days and weeks. Following the improvement project, the hospital earned $1.2 million in first-year incremental revenue.

A Safer Way To Perform Portable X-rays

Lean tools were used in a cross-functional, collaborative initiative to develop a safer procedure for performing portable x-rays. This project successfully implemented process improvements that reduced workers’ compensation costs, increased productivity, and improved patient safety.
Emergency Department Applies Lean for Process Improvement.

When an emergency department used lean techniques to improve process flow, patient satisfaction scores rose from the 30th to the 95th percentile. Value stream mapping helped identify and eliminate non-value-added steps.

So… Lean can also work for you to:

  • Improve patient outcomes
  • Develop or improve patient-centric processes
  • Reduce medical errors- and patient records errors
  • Improve medical administration processes
  • Improve collaboration between professional, services and agencies
  • Build strong and capable management
  • Increase revenue
  • And of course, reduce costs and excess charges – which most healthcare
  • providers, government agencies, and the public agree are out of control…

The list goes on!
Let’s look at other niche applications in primary health care…


This is an exciting field of cutting-edge science, engineering and technology that is making great advances in human, animal, aquatic and plant biological sciences…. Especially in the development of advanced medicines, drugs and associated treatments for clinical use.

LSS has a long history in manufacturing so that its application across to this area of biological engineering is a logical, relevant and important progression.

Biotechnology companies and organisations (including government agencies and universities) have a strong interest in commercialising their discoveries so the application of LSS methodology, processes and tools has the potential to speed commercialisation and reduce costs… Win-win!


At Acclino, we understand that the full potential of LSS applied to the pharmaceutical industry is still to be realised.

Be part of the new wave… especially if you are looking at targeted process transformations – small scale with a real payoff for company efficiency, waste reduction, culture change and cost reduction or innovation.

At Acclino we believe there are real competitive advantages to be had with this approach in the industry.

For example, over a decade ago, LSS programs were found in many companies across the industry as a wave of implementation swept the industry – especially at the top end of town. However, implementation issues meant that many failed to deliver on their promise.

Like other industries, the application of LSS implementations today can more often be found in smaller manufacturing initiatives.

Acclino is up to speed on the opportunities in the industry… for example, we are aware that it is not only about quality improvement, reducing the number of defects and training – but largely about improving the overall performance of the company – the business context and associated problem-solving. We also understand that in pharma, the leadership of the organisations implementing any form of LSS must be fully behind the initiative for it to succeed.

At Acclino these issues are addressed in the focus of its framework processes and tools that incorporate the best aspects of Lean thinking in training with a strong emphasis on internal collaboration and problem to understand variability, reduce waste, and improve processes,


This is THE question!
With the health sector being a dynamic implementer of LSS initiatives – across the sector for over two decades, Lean has an accumulation of expertise and outcomes that testify to its continued usefulness.

Take the first step

No one knows your business like you do… Management and employees hold the keys to the future if their knowledge, experience, and commitment are fully harnessed to make effective decisions… and to implement them.

Choosing a pressing operational need and establishing a multi-professional implementation team are common starting points in health care.

Of course, external expertise will be important to help structure and drive the process and bring the framework, tools, and training needed for success… but capturing and coordinating the internal capacity of your organisation is a key element in a successful transformation.

This allows for a focus on achievable outcomes with a significant payoff for company success through employee buy-in… and it helps build an engaged, empowered and enabled workforce. These are great dynamics in any organisation operational cultural or organisational challenges.

Use tried and tested process transformations that work in the sector

LSS has the runs on the board. It’s your weapon of choice in health care for collaborative process transformation, waste reduction, improved clinical outcomes and customer service interventions and problem-solving.
For example, at Acclino, we have distilled the essence of Lean, Six Sigma, and Project Management into one framework and a handful of simple to use tools. The Acclino framework works well in the healthcare industry!!

Consider what is right for you – Small steps V large transformations

Each is appropriate under certain circumstances.

At Acclino we are finding that the small-step approach fits well with our healthcare clients. When it is strategically focused on achievable outcomes, in key areas driving company success, it is less disruptive of quality care delivery and achievement of effective patient outcomes, It is easily structured to win employee engagement… and it has proven to be a real winner!


Read what Declan Quinlan, Operations Director at Merck had to say.

“Having used the Acclino framework and methodology very successfully in a previous organisation I had no hesitation in recommending Acclino to MSD in Carlow. We are already reaping the benefits here in MSD with 50% plus reductions in our production turnaround processes.

As always, the Acclino methodology is simple to understand and apply. Key to success is the emphasis on simplicity and the engagement of the teams and the stakeholders.

Another important factor for us is that this methodology works equally well in our support functions, for example on our Quality and Materials processes.

We are more than happy to highly recommend the Acclino framework and methodology to any Pharmaceutical organisation”.

As Acclino has demonstrated… a successful Lean transformation requires, as a starting point:

A Framework

The Acclino Transformation Framework can be applied with consistent success in any process transformation in any organisation, at any level, in the health sector.

A Methodology

Our framework and our methodology is simple to understand, learn and apply.


Just a hand full of easy to use tools will guide you to achieve outstanding results… with no more brown paper rolls or post-it stickers… no formulae and no transformation jargon.

So Acclino make it simple and keep it simple to understand and apply, fully engage your people, deliver outstanding results with no jargon, no exams, no pain, no excuses.


For more information on the application of Lean and lean training for your company, please get in touch via damian@acclino.com or roisin@acclino.com

Acclino make it simple, keep it simple and work with you for the results you need.

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