Applying Toyota’s Lean Production System in Healthcare and Hospitals

shutterstock_143212498When it comes to lean production, John Black, Boeing’s Director of World Class Competitiveness, knows a thing or two. He has used his knowledge to significantly reduce the building time for the Boeing 737 jet from 29 days to eleven days with a future target of about six days. Now, Black and his partner Joanne Poggetti, are turning their attention to Mayo Medical Laboratories (MML), who according to Poggetti, “have implemented all elements of the Toyota production system.” With their insights garnered from the Boeing experience and MML, Black and Poggetti are applying them to the implementation of healthcare in the Seattle and Saskatchewan hospital systems.

The Toyota Production System (TPS) is an integrated socio-technical system, developed by Toyota, that comprises its management philosophy and practices. The main objectives of the TPS are to design out overburden and inconsistency, and to eliminate waste.

According to a recent article in Forbes, through a $40 million contract to Black's company JBA Consulting, practices are being put in place in the hospital systems to reduce patient lead time, ensure timely processing of medical tests, and reduce waste and the systems by which daily supplies get to the right goals.

"The overweening goal is defect free patient care that is standardized to reduce the time required for the path to tests and treatment,” according to Black. Change is already evident in the 34 percent reduction in patient lead time, the speeding up of obtaining test results, and the elimination of wasteful overhead.

Poggetti discusses how the Mayo Medical Laboratories in Minnesota has effectively employed the Toyota Production System. Every medical test specimen is charted carefully and is believed to be defect free.

According to the article, the system employs Toyota Factory’s ZERO rules: among them ZERO customer dissatisfaction, ZERO misalignment, ZERO waste, ZERO breakdowns, ZERO defects. Next to the ZERO rules are Toyota’s Factory work directions: L for listen, E for explain, A for assist, D for direct, E for evaluate and R for Respond.

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Kelley Schreiber

Kelley Schreiber is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her new kitten, and exploring new foods.