Introduction: Patient flow during workup for lung cancer is often difficult to influence because of delay at many levels: patient delay, doctors' delay and waiting time for X-ray and CT scan, referral to specialist, and waiting time for chemotherapy and radiotherapy or surgery. A mean workup time of 4 months is not unusual.
Objectives: To improve quality and shorten the workup time for patients with lung cancer.
Methods: It was decided to employ a program designed by the Toyota car industry, the Lean process, as a tool to improve workup time. A Lean process implicates all levels of an institution with project and focus groups having workshops to analyse present status and suggest improvements.
Results: Since introducing the Lean project, we have decreased the workup time from a mean of 64 days to 16 days, and the median time from diagnosis to surgery was reduced from 26.5 days to 15 days.
Conclusion: It is feasible to improve patient flow for patients with lung cancer by employing the Lean method as a pathway instrument.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.