Streamlining healthcare with lean thinking

Management colloquium

(L-R) Professor Ian McLoughlin, Head of the Department of Management, Mr Martin Lum, Department of Health, Victoria, Professor David Ben-Tovim, Flinders Medical Centre and Professor Amrik Sohal

A two-day colloquium on using lean thinking in healthcare saw leading practitioners and researchers from across Australia assemble at the Monash University Conference Centre last month.

The academic seminar, 'Lean in Healthcare,’ was hosted by Monash University's Department of Management, the Redesigning Care Program, Flinders Medical Centre and the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network.

The lean thinking concept of maximising customer value while minimising waste, has helped international organisations in the service sector get through significant and successful operational changes.

While there is a significant amount of research in the application of lean thinking in healthcare, interaction between lean healthcare practitioners and the wider research community has been limited.

The aim of the colloquium was to develop a network of practitioners and researchers to implement lean thinking research and practice across the Australian healthcare sector.

The Department of Management’s Professor Amrik Sohal said that Australia was at the forefront of using lean thinking to improve healthcare processes, with interest in the approach spreading from single institutions to groups in hospitals throughout the country.

“Research in the application of lean thinking in healthcare benefits from a broader base of understanding than is to be found in the health sector alone,” Professor Sohal said.