Product or Patient? How Lean Manufacturing is Saving Lives

When someone suffers a stroke they must receive anti-clotting medication in several hours to prevent them from dying. At Southwest Medical Center in Oklahoma City, just a few years ago it would take on average 71 minutes for ER patients to receive the drug. Now, their average is 53 minutes, a decrease in 25%. In order to make this change the hospital learned from Toyota’s lean manufacturing.

A team of nurses and doctors looked at the process flow of a patient and identified several key points that wasted time. Just like Toyota’s lean manufacturing, their goal was to get rid of any waste. For example, they leave the patient on an ambulance gurney through the entire process instead of transferring the patient to a bed, which was the traditional process.

Improving this process may not save more lives but it does enhance the treatment of the patients. Treating a stroke patient about 20 minutes earlier “can save an average of 38 million neurons, depending on the type of stroke. That could mean the difference between walking out of the hospital to live a normal life or living the rest of one’s life in a nursing home with constant care.”


One thought on “Product or Patient? How Lean Manufacturing is Saving Lives

  1. What a great real example of how other industries can use the lean manufacturing technique. It must have been really hard to train a whole entire staff in a hospital to make such minuscule but live alternating changes. I think more organizations and companies should be recognized for these achievements as a way to show anything is possible and how even simple changes can make such a dramatic difference. I hope other Medical Centers are looking for ways to eliminate wasted time in their process, even those that have good average times to treatment- continual improvement should also always be a cornerstone of any process.

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