Thoughts on Healthcare Kaizen

Lean Healthcare has been a central part of many of my podcasts and is a much talked about field these days. A result of not only the cost savings that Lean provides but the ability of Lean to assist in prevention of errors and time-saving. There have been few greater advocates of the application of Lean in healthcare than Mark Graban, author of the popular Lean Blog. Mark and his co-author Joe Swartz  of the book Healthcare Kaizen were on the Business901 podcast, Engaging the Front-Line with Kaizen.

As a result of the podcast, I received a complimentary copy of Healthcare Kaizen: Engaging Front-Line Staff in Sustainable Continuous Improvements. I mentioned to Mark that I would post a review and then give it to someone I knew in a Healthcare position. Now, after reading the book, I realize what a stupid commitment I made, I really do not want to pass the book on.

HC KaizenThe book contains over 200 illustrations; many of them color, all directly related to healthcare. These illustrations are from practical healthcare-related work demonstrated in facilities such as St Francis Health, Akron Children’s Hospital and many others. The content contains examples after examples demonstrating the use of the Kaizen (continuous improvement) concepts all related to healthcare.

I spend much of my time in Sales and Marketing. In these engagements, a certain amount of trust is developed and fortunately my work is sometimes extended into other customer areas, primarily the service area. Of course, healthcare is very service orientated and the examples and illustrations parallel much of my present work. I found many of them very applicable to other service areas.

When we read a well written book, we feel comfortable that we understand the process. They have broken the information down so that it is easily understood. Very similar to good speakers, we walk away saying; “I knew that.” All that is left is for us to do is implement the process. However, most implementations and applications are not so straightforward, and we end up changing very little.

After reading Healthcare Kaizen, I walk away with the feeling that they have explained how to start a Kaizen implementation. I am thinking, “I know this stuff.” However, the book goes a step beyond. It is more than a how to but rather a guide to make our processes better. The book seems like a companion for a Lean journey versus a reference.

If saying that is not enough, what makes this book a keeper is that it may be the best book on Kaizen that I have ever read. Mark and Joe start out explaining Kaizen at the most basic level. So, you do not need to know anything about Lean or Kaizen. They go on to explain how Kaizen is intended to be used, at the place of work utilizing small incremental change, the secret to the success of Kaizen. The book explains a process such as a visual board, gives examples and then provides a how to. It is a step by step guide for the implementation of Kaizen and can be utilized at any level within the organization.

Other thoughts:

  • I reviewed the actual book not the Kindle version. I have no idea, but I cannot imagine a Kindle doing justice to all the illustrations, but someone else has to speak for that.
  • The book is a little expensive for someone to purchase that is not in the healthcare field. But I do compliment the publisher, Productivity Press, for allowing that many colored pictures to be used.
  • There is so much information that you may be overwhelmed. My instincts were to rip the book apart in sections and chunk the knowledge into a more defined space. I am sure that is just a limitation of my learning capacity.
  • The book could be sold by chapter in a Kindle version that would allow it to be utilized for a specific use.
  • I would encourage forming an internal meetup group to discuss each chapter on a monthly basis.
  • I think it would benefit any Healthcare facility.

The book website offers additional information:

From the Book Description: Healthcare Kaizen focuses on the principles and methods of daily continuous improvement, or Kaizen, for healthcare professionals and organizations. Kaizen is a Japanese word that means “change for the better,” as popularized by Masaaki Imai in his 1986 book Kaizen: The Key To Japan’s Competitive Success and through the books of Norman Bodek, both of whom contributed introductory material for this book.

Joseph E. Swartz has been leading continuous improvement efforts for 18 years, including 7 years in healthcare, and has led more than 200 Lean and Six Sigma improvement projects. He is currently the Director of Business Transformation for Franciscan St. Francis Health in Indianapolis, IN.

Mark Graban is the author of Lean Hospitals and has worked as a consultant and coach to healthcare organizations throughout the world. He serves as a faculty member at the Lean Enterprise Institute and is also the Chief Improvement Officer for KaiNexus, a startup software company that helps healthcare organizations manage continuous improvement efforts.

3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Healthcare Kaizen”

  1. Thanks for the review, Joe. I have seen our book on a Kindle Fire and it works pretty well. The images are in color and you can zoom in on them pretty easily. I’m told the book worked well on an iPad via the Kindle app. It’s always a matter of personal preference, I guess. People can also read the Kindle version on a Mac or PC… it can be “rented” for as little as $22.

  2.  Thanks Mark, I appreciate the update. I have experienced some rather poor Kindle versions and just questioned it with so many illustrations. Glad to hear it came out well.

Comments are closed.