Patient experiences after implementing lean primary care redesigns

Health Serv Res. 2021 Jun;56(3):363-370. doi: 10.1111/1475-6773.13605. Epub 2020 Dec 10.


Objective: To examine the effect of Lean primary care redesigns on patient satisfaction with care and timeliness of care received.

Data/setting: We used patient surveys and time-stamped electronic health record (EHR) data in a large ambulatory care system.

Design: Lean-based changes to clinical spaces and care team workflows were implemented in one pilot site and then scaled to all primary care departments across the system. Redesigns included standardizing equipment and patient education materials in examination rooms, streamlining call management functions, co-locating physician and medical assistant dyads in a shared workspace, and creating new care team workflows. We used a non-randomized stepped-wedge study design and segmented regression with interrupted time series analysis to examine Lean impacts on patient outcomes.

Data collection: We analyzed patient satisfaction ratings and wait times as documented by the EHR. These longitudinal data were collected for 317 physician-led teams in 46 primary care departments from January 2011 to December 2016.

Principal findings: After implementation of Lean redesigns, patients reported a 44.8 percent increase in satisfaction with the adequacy of time spent with care providers during office visits (P < .05). They also reported 71.6 percent higher satisfaction with their care provider's ability to listen to their concerns, and a 55.4 percent increase in perceived staff helpfulness at the visit (P < .01). Based on monthly EHR data, the amount of time elapsed between a patient request for a routine appointment and the scheduled visit day decreased from baseline by an average 2 percent per month (P < .01). On the day of the visit, patient wait times to be seen also decreased gradually by an average 1.2 percent per month (P < .05).

Conclusions: Patient experiences of care after Lean implementations have not been widely studied in primary care settings. We found that Lean redesign yielded improvements that may strengthen clinical operations while enhancing value for patients.

Keywords: lean implementation; longitudinal time-stamped EHR data; patient satisfaction/experiences; quality improvement; stepped-wedge study design; timeliness of care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Humans
  • Interrupted Time Series Analysis
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration
  • Patient Education as Topic / organization & administration
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Quality Improvement / organization & administration*
  • Time Factors
  • Total Quality Management / organization & administration*
  • Workflow