Lean thinking across a hospital: redesigning care at the Flinders Medical Centre

Aust Health Rev. 2007 Feb;31(1):10-5. doi: 10.1071/ah070010.


Lean thinking is a method for organising complex production processes so as to encourage flow and reduce waste. While the principles of lean thinking were developed in the manufacturing sector, there is increasing interest in its application in health care. This case history documents the introduction and development of Redesigning Care, a lean thinking-based program to redesign care processes across a teaching general hospital. Redesigning Care has produced substantial benefits over the first two-and-a-half years of its implementation, making care both safer and more accessible. Redesigning Care has not been aimed at changing the specifics of clinical practice. Rather, it has been concerned with improving the flow of patients through clinical and other systems. Concepts that emerged in the manufacturing sector have been readily translatable into health care. Lean thinking may play an important role in the reform of health care in Australia and elsewhere.

MeSH terms

  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospital Restructuring / methods
  • Hospital Restructuring / organization & administration*
  • Hospitals, Teaching / organization & administration*
  • Hospitals, Teaching / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Problem Solving
  • South Australia
  • Time Factors
  • Total Quality Management / methods*
  • Triage