Lean, long since embraced by manufacturing industries, has adapted since it’s early days in automotive and its evolution has seen it embedded in a variety of scenario’s from service industries, office environments where subtle changes to the toolsets have been made to get a best fit and now to healthcare. Its safe to say that the healthcare industry worldwide has begun in earnest to adopt lean in a bid to reverse rises in cost and patient waiting times.

The last 5 years has seen healthcare services around the world look to lean in a bid to resolve some of the pressing issues that have surfaced within the industry. Poor waiting times times, high cost, inefficient processes, poor customer experience. At a high-level these issues are not too dissimilar from those faced by traditional companies.

While Lean is not a panacea – it does offer credible tools for dealing with many of these issues – as a methodology lean offers tangible problem solving techniques and more importantly a route for resolving inefficiencies.

Given the huge growth in lean healthcare there are a number of credible case studies that can be used to examine the methods used and the successes gained in a bid to better understand how lean is applied in a healthcare environment.

NHS Royal Bolton Hospital


One of the foremost purveyors of Lean healthcare in the UK – the Royal Bolton has extensive experience, through it’s BICS program, of lean. The Royal Bolton was selected by the NHS as a pilot site in implementing lean and utilized the methods to deliver process re-engineering while delivering a safer service, lower costs and much improved patient experience.

Flinders Medical Center – Australia


First implemented in 2003 under the banner of the Redesigning Care program – Flinders medical center was one of the first hospitals in Australia to champion Lean and applying it to healthcare. Flinders takes a very human approach when reviewing objectives – customer care and hospital staff are at the top of its objectives. Four years into the program Flinders has produced some tangible benefits. Further information can be found at http://www.leanhealth.net.au/



The Iowa Healthcare Collaborative is a group of hospitals in the US that encourages the use of Lean in healthcare – the organization aims to improve understanding of Lean methods while utilizing improvements made in other hospitals as educational aids to roll out subsequent improvements in “learner” organizations.

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