Doing More with Less to Benefit Patients, Payers, and Staff
Torben Danger from BCG discusses the industrialization of healthcare.
Inefficiencies in healthcare systems call for increasing use of industrialization concepts. In the video, Torben Danger from BCG discusses the industrialization of healthcare. Additionally, a white paper illustrates how providers, patients, payers, and staff can benefit.
Download the white paper here 1.6 MB.
Industrialization – Key drivers and approaches for healthcare providers:
- Why do we need to talk about the industrialization of healthcare?
Missed prevention opportunities, unnecessary services, excess administrative costs, and ineffectively delivered care, among others, are causing up to 765 billion excess healthcare costs annually in the US alone. Comparisons with other high-tech and service industries show that many of them have already succeeded in increasing productivity by adopting industrial approaches such as supply-chain-thinking, holistic workflow management, and consistent automation. Not taking advantage of these opportunities would be economically unwise and socially irresponsible. While efficient management of resources is ethically imperative in industrialized countries – for reasons of sustainability and to relieve the financial burden on healthcare systems – it is even more important in emerging economies and developing countries, where many people have no or inadequate access to health services.
- How are healthcare providers using industrial approaches?
To solve this challenge, the healthcare sector increasingly employs modern production methods. Although patients are obviously not cars, and doctors and nurses are not production resources, similarities between industrial production and treatment processes do exist and can be used to identify opportunities for optimization.
a. The concept of lean: Hospitals learning from other industries
The core philosophy of lean is to continually improve a process by removing steps that do not add value and are therefore waste. Lean has been on the rise in the healthcare sector worldwide since the early 2000s. Examples include The Royal Bolton NHS Foundation Trust (UK), Quebec’s provincial health system (Canada), or the Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle (US).
b. Standardization of care: Clinical pathways on the rise
Successful industrial production would be inconceivable without standards. Standards facilitate collaboration with upstream and downstream stages, guarantee consistent quality, and simplify decision-making. This is why many protagonists in the healthcare sector advocate standardizing care. Clinical pathways (also known as care or critical pathways) are seen as a promising solution. They enable health systems and other healthcare organizations to make evidence-based decisions about where to focus improvement efforts.
c. Automation: Efficiency gains through IT
In almost all industries, measures to improve processes now involve the use of modern IT. The healthcare sector still has a lot of catching up to do here. Great expectations are placed on the introduction and systematic development of electronic medical records (EMRs). Although the framework conditions for switching to EMRs vary worldwide, case studies from different countries show that systematic implementation can provide a significant return on investment.Much like using equipment in a modern production facility, making optimal use of operating rooms and the plethora of sophisticated medical equipment in a modern hospital is a complex management task. This is where digital fleet management portals can help. By closely monitoring medical equipment, they help identify workflow problems, facilitate maintenance, and plan investments, and can thus reduce the inefficient underutilization of expensive equipment.
 IOM (Institute of Medicine). 2013. Best care at lower cost: The path to continuously learning health care in America. The National Academies Press. Page 13-14. [Online] http://nap.edu/13444. Accessed May 09, 2017.
 Olivia Cavlan, et al. (2011). Using care pathways to improve health systems. McKinsey. http://healthcare.mckinsey.com/sites/default/files/784420_Using_Care_Pathways_to_Improve_Health_Systems.pdf. Accessed June 06, 2017.