Blog Posts


EmCare Writes the Book on Lean

Posted on Mon, Sep 26, 2016
EmCare Writes the Book on Lean

By Kirk Jensen, MD, MBA, FACEP

We in healthcare are passionate about providing exceptional quality, safety and service to our patients.

Applying lean principles to streamline our systems and processes can free us to focus on delivering high-quality care, leading to increased satisfaction both for patients and for healthcare teams.

Quality and performance advances in the automotive industry are the foundation of what we now call lean manufacturing and lean services – standardizing processes to reinvent a business, department or even a country. Lean emphasizes processes that deliver client value, eliminate waste, promote flow and encourage the practice of continuous improvement.

In healthcare, an industry focused on quality, safety and patient care, the stakes can be high and the challenges all too real – at times literally a “matter of life or death.” We all want, and seek to build, environments where our people - talented, trained and motivated healthcare team members - can focus on their mission of delivering superior healthcare and service. The systems and processes in place must facilitate, rather than hinder, the attainment of these goals. Lean provides a philosophy, an approach, and effective tools to advance and enhance our work on all levels.

Peter Drucker said, “The only things that evolve by themselves in an organization are disorder, friction and malperformance.” Disorder, friction and malperformance exist in the complex world of healthcare, with resultant catastrophic consequences. Healthcare administrators increasingly are examining and retooling processes to improve safety, quality and efficiency while wringing out waste. For many organizations, this means implementing lean.

EmCare recently published “Making Healthcare Work Better™ with Lean,” a book and supporting workbook developed by the company’s clinicians and operational experts to help hospital leaders and process improvement teams better understand and implement lean process improvement techniques.

The goals for the publication are:

  • To highlight the application of lean principles in the healthcare sector, using practical real-world examples informed by the people who have actually done the work;
  • To illustrate the tools, approaches and philosophy that have enabled multiple departments and services to significantly improve their operations;
  • To put lean in its proper place or perspective as an adjunct in improving the lives of our patients and our people; and
  • To infuse a note of optimism into the current healthcare delivery conversation as we press forward in the face of healthcare delivery challenges.

The book is a compilation of lean experiences and advice from nearly 30 practicing experts. It covers a broad base of healthcare services within and beyond the walls of the hospital. It is accompanied by a free, downloadable workbook with practical tips and exercises to help you break down barriers to getting lean in your organization. It’s the perfect reference book for someone who needs to understand what lean is about, how to make it work, how to overcome road blocks and how to gain buy-in.

Content Highlights

The publication includes chapters on:

  • Implementing Integration Strategies
  • Lean in the ED
  • Case Study: Lean Tabletop Simulation Exercise
  • Process Improvement in Perioperative Medicine
  • Why do you need Lean in the OR?
  • Improving Value
  • Hospital Medicine Was Born of Lean Thinking
  • Culture Change versus Secret Sauce
  • Technology that Supports Lean Process Improvement
  • Strategies for Improvement: Tried and True, Bold and New
  • Creating a Lean-focused Transitional Care Team
  • Lean Beyond the Hospital Stay
  • A Lean Solution: Mobile Integrated Healthcare
  • The Value of Lean in Radiology
  • Changing Mindsets at Every Turn
  • Lean Processes for Leaders
  • Applying Lean and Creating a Culture of Excellence
  • Lean Terms and Tools
  • 10 Rules of Engagement for Change Management

Every one of our patients, every one of our client hospitals and every one of our healthcare workers deserves an environment and a department that works – people, processes and performance that reliably deliver the care, services and outcomes we want.

To learn more about “Making Healthcare Work Better™ with Lean” or to download your free copy, visit Our Website.

Kirk Jensen

Kirk Jensen, MD, MBA, FACEP, is the Chief Innovation Officer for EmCare.