“Most studies indicate that employees spend 75-95 percent of their time doing things that increase costs and create no value for the customer,” says Amanda Mewborn, senior healthcare operational planner, Perkins+Will.

Mewborn joined colleague Marvina Williams, clinical operations specialist, Perkins+Will, during Healthcare Design’s Virtual Symposium this week to present a webinar, “Using Lean in Healthcare Facility Planning and Design.”

The speakers presented their own list of costly and potentially unproductive activities called the “8 Deadly Wastes,” which included:

• Overproduction—Processing too much, or more specifically, all those clipboards with forms that are prepared ahead of time

• Inventory—Among the issues here are holding more inventory than what’s required or hoarding supplies in one department, while another goes without

• Transportation—This can involve moving items more than required, which wastes energy, or requiring that staff visit multiple locations and supply rooms to gather the necessary materials for a single procedure, such as setting up an IV

• Waiting—“We specialize in this in healthcare,” Mewborn said. From patients waiting to be seen by a doctor to staff waiting to move patients to rooms or deliver care, there’s room for improvement here

 “We can provide more value by reducing waste,” says Mewborn.

The speakers shared several case studies where Lean principles helped create optimal designs that solved some of these operational  challenges.

In one, they talked about the use of process modeling, which uses the operational process or workflow as the main driver of facility size, to help determine the appropriate size of waiting spaces and number of seats for outpatient clinics in a new medical office building (MOB).

“Waiting spaces are often a patient’s first impression when visiting a clinical department or physician office,” Williams said. “Creating adequate spaces that decrease the amount of stress and anxiety are important.”  

Data collection included looking at provider schedules and length of time for each process during a patient’s visit. These inputs were programmed into a simulation model to identify the ideal number of seats needed in the waiting space throughout the day. In regards to the waiting space for the MOB’s sports medicine clinic, for example, the analysis identified the need for 24 seats at the busiest time of the day; however the planned number of seats was 32. In addition, provider schedules were also modified to stagger each provider’s start time, resulting in a further reduction of waiting area seats to 22 for this one clinic.

“That’s a big difference especially when you have multiple clinics being done,” Williams said.

What design strategies and principles are you putting to use to make a difference?