Reducing Hospital Infections Through a Lean Strategy

Embracing green principles makes sense in healthcare construction because it saves energy and lowers infection rates, a new report says, and lean principles are at least a small part of that movement.

            The report is from Health Technology Center, a research organization that provides hospitals and health systems reports, decision support tools and educational events.

            The organization says the $41 billion healthcare construction industry is finding that sustainable design practices reduce the transmission of infections through technologies such as motion sensors for lights, faucets and doorways.

            Other infection-reducing strategies in healthcare facility design include wireless communications, RFID tracking, anti-microbial surfaces, negative pressure isolation rooms, single patient rooms and emergency department entrance alternatives.

            Another trend is “the use of evidence-based design to assure that facilities support clinical efficiency, patient safety and deployment of emerging information and clinical technologies,” the company’s news release says.

            Where does lean come into this? According to the release, “design research databases, modeling and simulation, virtual environments, process software and manufacturing quality techniques (e.g. lean, six sigma) are among the tools increasingly used by hospitals and design firms.

            That makes it sound like lean is only of passing interest in this area. But think of it another way.

            You could say that, where a manufacturer seeks to produce quality products, a hospital seeks to produce healthy patients. If a patient falls victim to an infection while in the hospital, that is a defect that undermines the hospital’s mission and causes rework (having to cure the infection, in addition to the original illness). Therefore, reducing or eliminating infections is equivalent to eliminating waste in the form of defects and rework. And that is fundamentally lean.

            Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but in my view, not much of a stretch. What do you think?



Ralph Bernstein said...

5/28/2007 10:49:54 AM
Re: Reducing Hospital Infections Through a Lean Strategy
By: lgreen

www.leanhealthcareservices.com/blog contains some very useful Lean healthcare articles including one by Jefferey Clothier Chief of Staff at Arkansas Veterans Hospital

Ralph Bernstein said...

5/29/2007 5:57:45 PM
Re: Reducing Hospital Infections Through a Lean Strategy
By: dcbliss

Infection reduction has been a big focus for the Institue for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) through the 100,000 Lives campaign (just concluded) and the 5 Million Lives campaign (just started). Tremendous reductions in the infection rates have been accomplished. The IHI web site (IHI.org) alos endorses Lean as one of the preferred continuous improvement methodologies.