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Lean Training provides inspiration to BMH employees - Medically Speaking, Volume One, Number Five, 11/14/13

Blue Mountain Hospital department heads spent three days in workshops last month, learning the principles of a management process known as Lean.

The Lean process was developed by the owners of Toyota, in Japan, and was introduced to North American and Western European manufacturing companies through a book entitled The Machine That Changed the World. This book compared existing manufacturing processes in these areas to the Toyota Production System, and prompted the use of the Lean process throughout the world.

According to Blue Mountain Hospital CFO, Jeremy Lyman, the Lean process also fosters quality production and efficiency in the processes used in the hospital's operation. It analyzes the current processes, discovers inefficiencies, improves the current processes and eliminates inefficiencies and errors. But, Lyman stressed, Lean is an ongoing process, not a quick fix. The Lean training is in keeping with the Values of Blue Mountain Hospital that stress, in part, "… patient safety, patient rights, technology, education, and training. The Hospital is committed to continuing education, ongoing training and providing high quality equipment."

Last month's three-day workshop was taught by Thomas G. Zidel, President of Lean Hospitals LLC, a consulting company that provides facilitation and training to healthcare organizations. Zidel has 25 years experience in Lean implementation, and is the author of Lean Done Right, and The Lean Guide to Transforming Healthcare. Under Zidel's tutelage, department heads at BMH were instructed on various ways to put Lean practices to work in their departments. The goal is to make the overall productivity of Blue Mountain Hospital more efficient, provide higher quality patient care, illuminate waste and errors, and provide for a smoother-running operation throughout the hospital. Lyman said another advantage of employing Lean training is the cost savings the hospital will enjoy.

Joining BMH department leaders for this valuable training were representatives from Kane County Hospital, in Kanab, and Gunnison Valley Hospital, in Gunnison. Both are members of the Utah Rural Independent Hospital Network, along with Blue Mountain Hospital. Each department leader who received the Lean training was encouraged to plan one Lean event for their department in 2014 as part of the Lean process. This process stresses what are known as the '5 S's'. These are five Japanese words that begin in the letter 'S' and roughly translated to English mean, Organize, Orderliness, Cleanliness, Standardize and Discipline. In English, the '5 S's' are associated with the words, 'Sort, Straighten, Scrub, Standardize and Sustain.'

For example, Lyman explained, by employing these five words, departments can eliminate the need to search for an item, thereby illuminating the probability of error. This leads to increased productivity and improved quality, ensuring quicker response time and improved morale. It also helps modify the appearance of a department to convey a more professional image. In the case of Blue Mountain Hospital, one goal desired from using the Lean process is to help nursing staff spend more quality time with patients. By eliminating the need for nursing staff to spend time performing more mundane tasks, which keep them from spending time with patients, they can use their time more efficiently and productively.

To date, no department has completed a Lean event, but several departments have begun using Lean techniques to increase productivity and standardize procedures. The hospital's billing department is working with the Emergency Room to standardize paperwork and admission routines. Also, the ER has begun straightening and sorting it's inventory shelves for easier access and identification of items when needed.

Lyman said he believes the processes learned from the Lean training will benefit Blue Mountain Hospital in a very positive way in the coming year.

New Lean training offers direction for efficiency...Last month's Lean training at Blue Mountain Hospital offered department leaders insight into techniques that can be used to increase hospital productivity, efficiency and orderliness, as shown above with trays before Lean implementation and after. Courtesy photo

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