How to Implement Lean Management Into Your Medical Practice

How to Implement Lean Management Into Your Medical Practice

Back in the day, running a medical practice used to be easier. Operational procedures weren’t as extensive, patient expectations were simpler and regulations were more relaxed.

Unfortunately, thanks to rising costs, declining reimbursements, and increased paperwork, physicians today must learn to do more with less.

Consequently, physicians must focus more on the details of their operations than patients; at a time when patients are becoming more assertive in their demands and better informed.

So what is a medical practice to do? How can physicians simultaneously satisfy increasing operational and patient demands without sacrificing more time and energy?

Doctor Pointing at Tablet Laptop

The answer may lie in the field of ‘Lean Management’. This process was developed by Toyota after World War ll to eliminate waste, improve quality, and become a leader in the market. To achieve these results, Toyota had to completely re-engineer not only their core processes but also their culture.

By understanding the basic concepts of lean management, medical practices can successfully use these methods to make their operations more efficient and effective.

The main goal of lean management is in fact to reduce ‘waste’ or ‘muda’ (the Japanese term for waste). For a medical practice, waste would be defined as: the spending of time and other valuable resources in a way that prevents the optimization of patient care.

Sadly, waste exists in all medical practices and can show up in numerous ways. Taking too long to schedule appointments, adding unnecessary steps to a registration process, or neglecting to verify insurance coverage at the right time are all examples of waste.

Clear Light Bulb Placed on Chalkboard

One way to start identifying waste in your practice is to begin questioning the familiar. How many things are being done a certain way because “that’s how they’ve always been done”? It may be possible to improve operations by doing some of these things differently. When challenging the norm, don’t look at individual processes in isolation. Instead, try to consider the entire flow within your practice.

For example, you may ask yourself “Why do we have multiple in-house employees managing billing and revenue operations”? There may be better and ‘leaner’ ways to get these processes done, such as outsourcing your billing tasks to experts like Billing Savi.

By letting professionals handle these operations, your practice can focus more on patients, boost revenue flow, and reduce the need for in-house employees dedicated to billing.

When implementing lean management techniques within a medical practice, everyone should think about increasing value to patients and reducing waste. In fact, the entire process of patient care should be analyzed and re-examined. Take a close look at the people, technology and time required for information to transfer within the organization.

Next, bring your team together to map the current process flow step by step. This is a great time to brainstorm with your group on ways to question why things are done and improve upon existing approaches.

When it’s time to act and implement new ideas, come up with concrete steps that can be taken to achieve change.

Person Standing in Front of Table
Once things are in play, analyze the results using performance metrics to see if things are working out as predicted. The key to success is to put new ideas into the practice rapidly, give them a shot, and then adjust if necessary.

By starting with the above steps, your practice will be on the road to improving patient flow. Lean management techniques can show you how to implement the process of providing the best patient care in the shortest time without waste of resources.

Work with your team to always be on the alert for ways to improve performance and don’t be afraid to put new ideas into play.

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