The lean approaches to management, including the Lean Six Sigma (LSS), is aimed at improving efficiency, which tends to have positive outcomes on healthcare. For example, in a comprehensive review of the literature on various lean approaches in healthcare, D’Andreamatteo, Ianni, Lega, and Sargiacomo (2015) demonstrate that lean methods tend to improve the performance of healthcare organizations in multiple tangible and intangible ways.
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Some of these improvements include productivity, quality of care, safety, and satisfaction of patients and staff, and cost-efficiency. The authors also state that no negative results of the introduction of lean strategies were found, although not every study documented all the mentioned benefits. Still, the advantages of applying lean approaches are apparent, which suggests that their development for the promotion of healthcare information technology (HIT) innovation is an appropriate endeavor.
Implementation and application of lean approaches in healthcare
D’Andreamatteo et al. (2015) review the challenges, barriers, and facilitators of lean approaches. Many of the barriers and challenges indicate leadership problems, including poor focus and staff reluctance. Moreover, the major facilitators identified by the authors are effective leadership and employee support. Thus, it is apparent that a HIT leader can facilitate lean approaches implementation and employment for the benefit of HIT innovation.
The importance of leadership for lean approaches (in particular, LSS) was similarly cited by Laureani and Antony (2015), and the authors demonstrate that a people-centered leader is more likely to implement LSS successfully. It is noteworthy that Snedaker (2016) also emphasizes one of the principles of lean approaches: respect for all people. This principle appears to be crucial for a people-centered leader. Therefore, the adoption of a person-centered leadership style may help to incorporate lean approach principles into one’s leadership style.
Moreover, respect towards people seems to be a foundation for diversity management, which is a significant factor to take into account by a HIT leader. For example, in her insightful description of the bias that exists concerning introverts, Susan Cain exemplifies the fact that the understanding of the specifics of human resources is crucial for developing their potential (TED, 2012). She appears to suggest that the work of a team can be improved if the specific features of its members are respected.
Similarly, personality psychologist Brian Little provides the information on human personalities that suggests comparable conclusions: people differ in a variety of parameters that may have both positive and negative implications for various processes (TED, 2016b), which means that these parameters need to be taken into account by a successful leader. Moreover, Adam Grant, who analyzes the topic of creative people, demonstrates that certain features that are seen as negative (for example, moderate procrastination) can have positive effects on a person’s performance (for instance, concerning creativity) (TED, 2016a).
Respecting and managing these features is in line with lean approaches and may be instrumental in supporting employees in their quest for continuous improvement and innovation.
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Overall, the presentations and readings of this week suggest that the attention and respect towards people is the key to improving their productivity and leading them successfully towards the common goals. The latter may and probably should include lean-based continuous improvement and innovation. Thus, respect for employees can be viewed both as one of the principles of lean approaches and a tool for their adoption and development, which demonstrates its unique importance for HIT leaders.
D’Andreamatteo, A., Ianni, L., Lega, F., & Sargiacomo, M. (2015). Lean in healthcare: A comprehensive review. Health Policy, 119(9), 1197-1209. Web.
Laureani, A., & Antony, J. (2015). Leadership characteristics for Lean Six Sigma. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 28(3-4), 405-426. Web.
Snedaker, S. (2016). Leading healthcare IT. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
TED. (2012). The power of introverts | Susan Cain . Web.
TED. (2016a). The surprising habits of original thinkers | Adam Grant . Web.
TED. (2016b). Who are you, really? The puzzle of personality | Brian Little . Web.