7 Healthcare Wastes

7 Healthcare Wastes

We could probably all guess that there is waste in our healthcare system. This waste drives up our medical costs and in most cases doesn’t give us, as patients a better outcome or a better experience. Identifying the areas of waste is the first steps towards eliminating it. 

In his most recent blog post (below), Dr. Eric Bricker shares some of the biggest ways that waste has crept into our healthcare system. Hospitals and providers are obvious targets to help in reducing waste, but as you read through his list you’ll see that we all play a part in improving the system. HIG works with employers of all sizes, and their employees, to create smarter healthcare consumers.  We use paperless, HIPPA compliant systems to eliminate paperwork and take the headache out of purchasing and using health insurance.

7 Wastes and the Father of ‘Systems Engineering’

1. Delay, waiting or time spent in a queue with no value being added

Healthcare Example: Waiting for a doctor’s appointment, test or procedure with your condition worsening with nothing being done.

2. Producing more than you need

Healthcare Example:  The overabundance of hospital beds and expensive diagnostic equipment in America compared to the rest of the world.

3. Over processing or undertaking non-value added activity

Healthcare Example:  Performing MRIs for people with uncomplicated low back pain where the evidence has shown that MRIs do not help in the diagnosis, treatment or recovery (see Choose Wisely Campaign).

4. Transportation

Healthcare Example:  Transportation of patients within a hospital is very inefficient—patients have to wait in the ER for a bed to be cleaned on the hospital floor.  Hospital beds can’t be cleaned because a patient is waiting for transportation to home or to a nursing facility (I have commonly see patients wait +5hrs for rides).  Etcetera.

5. Unnecessary Movement or Motion

Healthcare Example:  Hospital admissions worker has to call the insurance company to verify benefits and patient out-of-pocket costs.  Insurance worker has to read those benefits from their computer screen to the hospital worker.  Those unnecessary movements could be reduced if the hospital admissions worker had online access to real-time benefits information at the insurance company.

6. Inventory

Healthcare Example:  Operating Rooms and cardiac cath labs carry whatever surgical kits, instruments, tools and medical implants each surgeon and cardiologist wants.  The result—the hospital carries 5 different types of knee implants in inventory, 10 different types of gallbladder removal trays and dozens of different types of catheters.

7. Production Defects

Healthcare Example:  A hospital-acquired infection is a production defect.  An avoidable readmission is a production defect.  A misdiagnosis is a production defect.  A missed screening opportunity is a production defect.  An incorrectly submitted bill by a provider is a production defect.  An incorrectly adjudicated claim by an insurance carrier is a production defect.  An incomprehensible EOB is a production defect.

Healthcare has much to learn from Taiichi Ohno.  Time to roll up our sleeves.