Applying Lean Principles to a Continuing Care Patient Discharge Process

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Valerie Maier-Speredelozzi
Assistant Professor, University of Rhode Island

Amy Thompson
PhD Student, University of Rhode Island

Paul Hossfield
University of Rhode Island

Stephen Abby
University of Rhode Island

In this project, lean manufacturing principles were applied to the healthcare industry. The team assessed the current state of a regional hospital unit and made recommendations for an improved future state. The focus area was the continuing care patient discharge process and a variety of lean techniques were employed.

Principles and tools that were developed for lean manufacturing can potentially improve efficiency and competitiveness across a wide range of industries, including healthcare. In this project, lean principles were applied to the discharge process at a regional hospital, particularly in the assessment and facilitation of continuing care cases. Tools used include value stream mapping, standardized work instructions, and error proofing through checklists, visual controls, and improved data entry procedures. The greatest benefits are derived through identifying and eliminating wastes in the process, such as wasted motion and wasted time. Other benefits occur due to the prevention of errors and reduction in the length of stay, which ultimately leads to greater customer satisfaction for both patients and employees.