Lean development for Washington hospital

Lean can be applied to the design any type of system, even a large system like a hospital.

Lean is a trend now in the design of space for architecture.   Many architects are starting  to apply lean manufacturing principles of waste reduction and flow to the internal processes inside of hospitals, but now lean is being applied to the design of the space itself.

Lean in design seeks to solve design problems by maximizing value and minimizing the drivers of waste.

As flow improves … excess space can be saved.

Everett Clinic

As wastes are removed … space becomes more efficient.

As the space  becomes efficienct …  space layout and footprint reductions can be achieved.

And with a reduction in footprint … more cost effective structures can be built.

In writing about one such project,  of the  Puget Sound Business Journal notes, 

Much has been made about the “lean” approach to health care: efforts to eliminate waste and streamline day-to-day operations to make treatment cheaper, faster and better quality.  Now architecture and design firms are finding ways to build environments that support maximum efficiency.  That move has helped drive another trend in hospital architecture – lean design.”  from bizjournals.com Hospital design follows “lean” trend for more efficiency, comfort March 4, 2013.  Similarly, in the architectural interpretation of this movement, new designs are trying to reduce waste – whether it’s wasted steps, overcrowding, or otherwise – and improve the human experience.

According to ZGF Architects, the lean design of the Everett Clinic Smokey Point Medical Center contributes to a 24 percent reduction in non-patient care space yielding $2.1 million in savings and a 30 percent reduction in the number of exam rooms (from 82 to 62 right-sized rooms).

Lean seeks to eliminate wastes from the design from the start.   The idea is to seek out the drivers of waste and remove them from the design.

In the Everett Clinic, variability is reduced because every operating room is standardized with the same layout,  and complexity is removed by having the same equipment set-up for surgery in the same way in each operating room.  These are just two of the seven techniques for designing out waste.

To drive out complexity architects can ask questions like:

  • Are there parts of the space and process that are obviously overly complex?
  • What parts of the space or process are hard to use for the nurses and doctors?
  • Does my space have any unnecessary things in it?
  • What do people complain about the most in existing spaces?

To drive out variability architects can ask questions like:

  • Is the process in the space difficult to maintain and control?
  • Can the space be improved to reduce variations?
  • Can the space be standardized to reduce variation?

The other drivers of waste are precision, sensitivity, immaturity, danger, and skill intensive tasks.

Explore this blog to learn more of the techniques to apply lean to the design of solutions in architecture and space design.   And please contact us if this has been helpful  by leaving a comment to this blog.


About Timothy Schipper

Author and coach on lean

Posted on March 30, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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