Bringing lean to Chinese hospitals

With the rapid development of the society and economy, more and more Chinese people are paying attention to personal and family health. The demand for healthcare service from hospitals and community clinics has increased exponentially, and with it the number of regulations introduced by the central and local governments.

In the face of increased demand and complexity, Chinese organizations now have an opportunity to embrace lean healthcare principles in order to fulfill the requirements for better care by shortening delivery times and eliminating process wastes. Lean is still new to the Chinese healthcare sector and we hope that the lessons included in this article – which result from Lean Enterprise China’s experience coaching 12 hospitals in southern China (providing care to some 27 million people annually) and training over 900 people – will be useful for other healthcare organizations in the country.

Our purpose at Lean Enterprise China is to improve the quality of healthcare in China, the working lives of hospital employees and the overall performance of hospitals. We do so with the Lean Healthcare Greenbelt Program, an approach that combines coaching and training and that includes: 40 hours of lean healthcare classes and gemba activities to introduce lean healthcare concept and methodologies; online learning to strengthen the trainee’s understanding; the completion of an improvement project (of 12 weeks on average) to connect theory to the daily work; the presentation of an A3 to report the lessons learned during the project; and an evaluation of the A3 and project by LEC.

The main goal of the program is to develop problem-solving capabilities and we are very grateful for the engagement we have witnessed from many of the hospitals’ top management teams. We have held over 30 Greenbelt Programs at different hospitals, mostly in GuangDong province, with about 30 students in each class. We are confident that the over 900 lean seeds we have planted will continue to grow.

In this article, we would like to share some of the best projects we have seen to date.

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