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Lean Health Care Success Stories

Community Medical Center, Missoula, Mont.

Problem: The cardiology program was adding two more cardiologists, and the outpatient cardiac diagnostic lab had a capacity of only eight exams per day.

Action: Work was redesigned, without adding staff or buying new technology.

Result: In a single day, capacity was doubled to accommodate 16 exams.

Problem: Patients had to wait up to six days between the cardiologist's exam, conducted in the doctor's office, and the treadmill exam, conducted in diagnostics lab.

Action: After observing the flow of patients from the cardiologist's office to the diagnostic lab, two physicians decided to see patients in the diagnostic lab (patients make appointments to see the cardiologist there). The daily schedule for diagnostic exams was changed so patients could get both exams the same day.

Result: Initial diagnosis-to-exam time for treadmill exams was reduced from 2,743 minutes to 64 minutes.


Pella Regional Health Center, Pella, Iowa

Goal: To reduce the speed (cycle time) of the admissions process by 25%.

Action: Reduced number of unnecessary questions on the fact sheet and provided information in "admissions packets."

Result: Decreased admission cycle time by an average of 71%, from an average of 17 minutes to less than 5 minutes. Goal: To decrease number of steps in standard work process by 25%.

Action: Reduced number of signatures required, reduced the number of admission questions and reduced the rework between admitting and the discharge planners.

Result: Decreased the number of steps by 33%, from 18 steps to 12.

Read main feature "Lean Health Care? It Works!"

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