• Lean Master Class Review: Learning to be Lean

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    Ophthalmologists and practice administrators attending AAO 2016 got in-depth advice on implementing lean management at a four-hour session Oct. 15. First used in the automobile industry, lean management has helped ophthalmology practices overcome significant deficits, improve patient satisfaction and increase profits.

    The Saturday master class built on a Sept. 20 AAOE webinar, “Think Lean: Reduce costs, Increase Profitability and Improve Patient Satisfaction.”

    Aneesh Suneja, president of FlowOne Lean Consulting, LLC, led the master class, which included a panel of four ophthalmologists who have successfully implemented lean management in their practices.

    He led attendees through a process called “value-stream mapping,” during which practices identify all steps of the patient-flow process. This step covers not just check in and check out, but all steps in the process.

    It is important to recognize that sometimes waste is created within the actual process such as visual-field testing or perhaps imaging. Wait can be created when results are not real time reporting. Owners, employed physicians, management and all staff members need to be involved in the brainstorming exercises needed to map all steps and identify the “wastes.”

    The presenters then identified eight categories of waste: 1) motion, 2) transportation, 3) inventory, 4) waiting, 5) defects, 6) over-processing, 7) over-production and 8) human talent. They shared ideas for practice improvement that can reduce wait times for patients, doctors and staff, and better use staff for assigned responsibilities. Practices should carefully review how they schedule and use equipment, how they use space and any other ideas that could reduce waste.

    The master class recording will be available for purchase in early 2016. I look forward to learning to be lean with all of you.