Nursing, and Healthcare in general, has made great strides due to Lean Six Sigma. Below are just a few examples of the tools and concepts that can be used to great effect.

  1. Apply 5S to the Nursing station so that supplies used most often are placed near each other and at waist height while placing those items used less frequently in less valuable storage areas
  2. Apply the results of the 5S to all nursing stations such that you pave the way for a visual workplace and standard work – this allows nurses to swap into different stations while still being able to find everything
  3. Challenge the “Scope of Practice” assigned to RNs, LPNs, etc. and cross-train where it will enable better workload balancing.
  4. Map the process for ordering supplies since it often involves multiple calls to different areas of the hospital, lengthy look-ups in product catalogues and approvals which can also delay delivery – there are generally good opportunities to remove waste and increase flow of ordering processes.

These are just a few of the Lean Six Sigma applications to Nursing processes and work areas. Healthcare is in a unique position to make great strides in process improvement since what works at one hospital will most likely work at others. Since the goal of Nursing is to spend as much time with patients as possible, freeing Nurses up to do that by removing waste in the system has incalculable benefits.

Elisabeth Swan

Elisabeth is a Managing Partner & Executive Advisor at GoLeanSixSigma.com. For over 25 years, she's helped leading organizations like Amazon, Charles Schwab and Starwood Hotels & Resorts build problem-solving muscles with Lean Six Sigma to achieve their goals.