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Efficiency: The Lean Advantage

gp Oct 22, 2021

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretsky


Nobody likes to waste their time. And nobody likes to waste resources. It’s a fact of life in a healthcare practice that when resources and time are not well managed, many issues start bubbling to the surface, causing staff unhappiness and ultimately affect patient care. Here, we look at how you can start improving efficiencies with Lean business operations and intentional practice flow, which will, in turn, result in practice success.

As our recent Practice Success Collective webinar poll revealed, for 50% of people, Lean is a foreign concept. No, it has nothing to do with body shape; rather, it helps shape an organisation. It’s creating a culture of questioning every process an organisation undertakes, asking if there is a better way than the current way of doing something. It requires an honest and methodical evaluation.

Most people would agree that the attitude of “this is how we’ve always done it” is a big barrier to innovation and change for the better. If you have an open mind to new ideas and ways of doing things, then read on.


What is Lean?

“Lean is a set of concepts, principles and tools; in primary healthcare, Lean is patient-focused and is the continuous flow of value by the elimination of waste. Lean questions every process the organisation undertakes, asking if there is a better way,” says Marie Searle, Executive Healthcare Consultant at Practice Partners.

“Lean operations in practices provide the most value to patients while consuming the least resources, with no wasted expense,” she says.

The two pillars of Lean are:

  1. Quality improvement, and
  2. Respect.

To achieve a Lean health service, she says, look at the building blocks and how to achieve extraordinary patient care for your patients, while maximising your existing resources. That is, creating more service delivery while maximising what you can.

The many benefits to you include improved patient services and patient experience, improved workplace organisation and design, and a top performing, engaged team.

Towards a Leaner practice

Creating a Lean culture can require change; something most people dislike. The good news is that the expertise of a consultant can make it a much easier process by coming in and walking beside the practice as needs are identified and changes implemented.

  1. Define by establishing foundational, baseline data
  2. Meet with teams, present facts, and ask: what can we do?
  3. Initiate a plan, do, study, act process
  4. Look at your processes
  5. Increase output resulting from powerful transformation


Stress less about accreditation with PracticeHub

Lean principles underpin practice management software, PracticeHub, helping practice managers to run a healthcare business safely, simply, and importantly, more efficiently. Even across multi-practice sites. As an online, cloud-based platform, it’s been designed by practice managers for practice managers; streamlining accreditation and management activities. With a comprehensive suite of templates, it’s every practice manager’s dream.

“…designed by practice managers
for practice managers…”

According to Maja Ajdukovic, Senior Business Development Manager at PracticeHub, the huge benefit of using their software in general practice relates to the cycle of 3 yearly accreditation. PracticeHub contains a suite of easily editable policy and procedure templates that align to the Standards by which practices are assessed, with functionality for storage of evidence and self-assessment activities. Using PracticeHub means you can stress less and always be ready for accreditation day.

Its dashboard is simple, with a task focused design, helping staff become more efficient. Because it stops task duplication, your Practice Manager can then be freed to focus on other activities that will add value to your practice.

PracticeHub adds plenty of tangible value for you as a practice owner, and for new staff. It can be used in general, dental, specialist and allied health practices, for the ultimate in efficiency.


Lean calculations accurately align staff resourcing to patient demand

Appointment scheduling is recognised as one area where huge efficiency improvements can be made.

Marie Searle says the Takt Time Calculator, a Lean efficiency tool, can be used to great effect in helping you plan and schedule the time needed for patient appointments. Converting staff time to minutes, it analyses the appointment time available throughout the day for your different staff.

You can use the calculator in conjunction with PenCat data extracts to identify eligible patients for CDM, then schedule the time for care plan appointments and other reviews. This means more efficient use of your staff time where you can roster employees to suit demand, and achieve savings simultaneously.

What’s more, using cutting edge technology, such as KPeyes, HotDoc, and PracticeHub, streamlines practice processes, saving you even more time and money.


How healthcare practice design and fit-out embraces Lean principles

Lean principles go hand in hand with practice flow and can be incorporated from the very start, with good design.

“Lean methodology meshes in so well with how we work at Evoke,” says Jerry Kennard, CEO at Evoke Projects.

“Giving engagement and empowerment to staff, Lean design creates a space where people will enjoy coming to work. Staff amenities are crucial. If they’re poor or absent, staff may leave (along with your knowledge base) or won’t be attracted at all.

“The benefits lie in patient attraction, top talent attraction, creation of revenue producing spaces, practice flow and technology. All without any expense to the patient or team. And because it’s people-centric, you will have practice success,” he says.

There are 2 parts to design: spatial (how the space works) and environmental (how you feel when you walk in). Does the feeling you get work to alleviate that certain level of anxiety you feel when visiting a GP or dentist? Do you feel welcomed? Start to think in these terms when you look at your own practice.


7 key flows for your practice design

  1. Patients
  2. Staff
  3. Medicine
  4. Supplies
  5. Information
  6. Equipment
  7. Family

New ideas in practice design include concierge services, CDM rooms, telehealth rooms and sharing consult rooms. If you arrange your room set-ups identically, these new ways of working can be successful; with increased revenue, resulting in more value to your practice when selling.

In conclusion, if you stay with the way you’ve always worked, there may be a huge lost opportunity for you in terms of income, practice culture, job satisfaction and ultimate success. To introduce lasting changes it’s important to get team engagement and buy-in. Successful practice owners will embrace these winning Lean principles and methodologies, creating increased practice value both now and for the future.

As a highly trained health professional, your focus is on patient health. You’re not expected to be a seasoned business specialist. That’s where our Practice Success Collective team of experts come in, with professional and time-saving advice. Contact them and they’ll guide you every step of the way.


Marie Searle
Executive Healthcare Consultant
0428 224 154
[email protected]

Maja Ajdukovic
Senior Business Development Manager
0412 496 722
[email protected]

Jerry Kennard
CEO, Evoke Projects
1300 720 692
0438 005 236
[email protected]