Lean healthcare crucial for Australia -expert

It’s a crucial time for healthcare providers in Australia to improve processes that don’t always support good work according to US Lean Healthcare pioneer Cindy Jimmerson.

On the eve of her trip to Australia to present workshops with InteLog Healthcare Performance Group, she says Australian healthcare organisations could be more prepared for the affect the baby boomers will have on the industry.

The proportion of Australians aged more than 65 years is expected to increase to 27.1% of the Australian population in 2051, up from 12.7% in 2002¹.

Jimmerson is the founder and director of Lean Healthcare West which implements the management methodology Lean Thinking and the Toyota Production System in healthcare organisations worldwide.

Lean Healthcare improves efficiency, enhances service quality, reduces waste and engages staff — and is assisting healthcare organisations to prepare for one of the biggest periods of demand the industry has ever faced.

“Baby Boomers are creating a skills shortage as they retire and are placing increasing demands on the healthcare system as they age,” Jimmerson says.

“Australian healthcare organisations, like healthcare organisations in all developed countries around the world, are looking to improve access to care, remove delays for service and increase their capacity for care.

The healthcare industry in the US adopted Lean Healthcare earlier and to a greater extent than the rest of the world, but other countries including Australia are starting to tap into its benefits.

Jimmerson says Lean Healthcare is a growing trend in the healthcare industry where organisations are looking at ways to improve patient and information flow, take the pressure off overworked employees, reduce wasted stock and better utilise space.

She is quick to point out that Lean Healthcare is about error proofing the processes and increasing efficiency but not at the expense of quality patient care.

One of Cindy Jimmerson’s successes includes redesigning a cardiology program without adding staff or buying new technology. Capacity was increased to 16 from 8 exams a day in the cardio echo lab.

Recently launched InteLog Healthcare Performance Group implements Lean Thinking in Australian hospitals, primary and aged care providers. The group is a subsidiary of InteLog, a business improvement and supply chain specialist for over 15 years.

General Manager of InteLog Healthcare Performance Group Bernie Kelly, says many healthcare organisations realise they are in a critical transition period as Baby Boomers age,” he says.

“They are calling on improved ways to increase their efficiency, improve their quality of service and increase the job satisfaction of stretched employees.”

The Lean Healthcare methodology InteLog Healthcare Performance Group implements, enables this to be achieved through a sustained, process-driven effort which engages staff.”

“Australia is increasingly spending more of its GDP on health, not only because we have an ageing population but because we’re an affluent country and can therefore afford to do more activity and recreation and with that comes more injuries,” Kelly says.

“Our healthcare system is already at crisis point as demand and expectations exceed available resources. Everyone knows this needs to change.”

“The question is how do we achieve change in a methodical way that involves administration, the medical staff and carers and delivers breakthrough steps that will be sustained and owned by the people doing the work?”

“Lean provides a framework which has achieved significant performance improvements in many industries, including healthcare, worldwide,” he says.

Cindy Jimmerson is presenting workshops in partnership with InteLog Healthcare Performance Group in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane between 24 September and 1 October. Please visit for more inform

About Cindy Jimmerson

Since 2000 Cindy Jimmerson has been assisting healthcare organizations with education and implementation of the Toyota Production System (TPS) and lean principles through the company she founded, Lean Healthcare West.

Cindy has contributed many journal articles, lectures extensively in the US and abroad, and is the author of the recently published book, A3 Problem Solving for Healthcare.

Before 2000, Cindy spent 25 years assisting hospitals and communities in the development of trauma and transport systems. She travels extensively for work but refuses to move from her office on the beautiful Blackfoot River in Missoula, Montana.

About InteLog Healthcare Performance Group

InteLog Healthcare Performance Group works to improve service delivery and quality of patient care in Australian hospitals, primary and aged care providers. It assists organisations to lighten the load of demands placed on the healthcare industry.

To find out how InteLog Healthcare Performance Group can assist your organisation to implement Lean Thinking, please contact Bernie Kelly using the contact details above.

InteLog has been operating as one of Australia’s leading performance improvement and supply chain consulting groups for over 20 years.

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