Lean thinking has been implemented in the service sector successfully. The key behind the successful implementation of lean thinking is to go for the complete service process instead of going about implementing in different divisions one at a time. There should be a collective goal towards continuous improvement and cost reduction. Lean thinking helps in having a critical view at the underlying systems and the flow of control and information.
The NHS confederation has taken the initial steps towards implementing lean thinking across their group hospitals. When implementing lean principles in an healthcare sector some of the key points to note are:
- The key to improve productivity is to identify the non value adding tasks and eliminating them.
- Simultaneously focus needs to be paid to improve the value adding activities in combination with the complete processes involved.
- The focus should be on improving the activities related to the end customer i.e. the patients which can be done through improving all the processes leading to better patient care.
By implementing lean thinking NHS wanted to address primarily the financial deficits, the hospital acquired infections and death rates, capacity constraints etc. NHS was able to realize the following benefits:
- Improved quality and higher safety
- Better delivery quality
- Higher productivity with the same resources
This ideally shows that lean thinking is not something that can be implemented in the manufacturing environment but can easily be replicated even in the service sector. Lean thinking integrates all the different activities related to process improvement by focusing on enhancing the value for the customer and then organizes the different parameters to ensure quality of delivery.