Patient-Centered LSS in Healthcare-Rejecting Industry’s Narrow Efficiency Focus

Presenter: Richard Schonberger, Independent Researcher/Author/Speaker, University of Nebraska, Bellevue, WA, USA

Keywords: LSS Process Improvement, Health Care Strategy, Patient Focus

Industry: Healthcare

Level: Intermediate


This presentation calls for healthcare to turn away from manufacturing’s dominant Lean Six Sigma emphasis, and do it its own, better, way. Because of the distance from end customers in the industrial sector (where few people ever see a real customer), its typical focus is inward—on operational efficiency through waste elimination. The nature of healthcare—with customers up close and immediate—calls for elevating Lean Six Sigma efforts toward customer-focused effectiveness: flexibly quick, “queue-less” response along the multiple flow paths leading to and involving patients. (Waste elimination, though a valued methodology easily taught and beneficially used by workforces; should be seen as ancillary to the greater purpose).

A case study in which widely scattered heart-attack patients were transported to a central treatment hospital in a system-wide, highly coordinated program of quick response, is illustrative. This presentation will show that the keys to success—including high rates of saving lives and Lean Six Sigma in general—boil down to just a few key methodologies, each focused on quick response. Lean Six Sigma healthcare, when practiced in this way, fosters status as a fixture in strategic management of the enterprise.

The presentation draws from and supplements a published article, Richard J. Schonberger, “Reconstituting Lean in Healthcare: From Waste Elimination (Lean Efficiency) toward ‘Queue-less” Patient-Focused Care (Lean effectiveness), Business Horizons, January-February, 2018.