Lean production is a process management philosophy that examines organizational processes from a customer perspective with the goal of limiting the use of resources to those processes that create value for the end customer. Lean manufacturing emphasizes increasing efficiency, decreasing waste, and using methods to decide what matters rather than accepting preexisting practices. A rapid improvement team at Lehigh Valley Health Network, Allentown, Pennsylvania, implemented a plan, do, check, act cycle to determine problems in the central sterile processing department, test solutions, and document improved processes. By using A3 thinking, a consensus building process that graphically depicts the current state, the target state, and the gaps between the two, the team worked to improve efficiency and safety, and to decrease costs. Use of this methodology has increased teamwork, created user-friendly work areas and processes, changed management styles and expectations, increased staff empowerment and involvement, and streamlined the supply chain within the perioperative area.
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