Kaizen – how to reinfuse the change in patient life?

Dnia 3 January 2015, autor Katarzyna Złotowska

Japanese philosophy of small steps can trigger in employees desire of implementing changes and actively engage people to improving clinical processes. This also influences on patient and their motivation. Gathering ideas from employees is one thing, implementing solution and maintaining is difficult task is another thing, but possible to realize.

While patient sees his bad test results is scared and doesn’t know what to do. As Milosz Brzezinski writes “there is a tendency for expire the emotions, so after some time determination for obey  difficult rules comes down. The mind doesn’t have his own way for long-term sustaining decisions. That’s why is better to show patient, that something is easier energy-related, for example: closer is go to the greengrocer’s shop that chemist’s. If somebody has to walk everyday, it would be easier with shoes lay down next to the bed; then patient shoe and will be easier to get out home(…) if somebody cannot mobilize for 20 minutes running, should focus on any walk” Miłosz Brzeziński, Puls Medycyny nr 6, kwiecień 2016.

If you want to implement Kaizen in your company- hospital, outpatient clinic or other medical unit, it is good start from learn about that, collect some practical examples from other hospitals, benchamrking. Mainly, implementing kaizen has no sense, if it’s forced, because kaizen approach is a continuous process. It is not a project, which as finished you can summarize and collect results. Once well implemented philosophy kaizen could be acceleration for continuous improvement and succeeding lean healthcare tools. If employees- physicians, nurses, technicians, medical caretaker and top management actively and permanently engage in change process, it will be success for entire hospital.

Proposing ideas, which can inspire other shouldn’t be intrude (some corporation force employees to report for example minimum 5 ideas/person/quarter, as KPI for each department). This is not compatible with Kaizen philosophy. I disagree with this approach. Usually, ideas comes spontaneously, not imposed, that’s why great ideas were made in different situation, not working at desk but meeting with people in gemba.

The process of reporting ideas in medical unit should be standarized, described, the best in visual way and public for all employees. The possibilities of reporting ideas shouldn’t be divided into group. Every of employee should have the same possibility to report improvement- if it is nurse or medical staff, they also can report some idea for administration department and conversely.

After message of optimization clinical process or other, team (the best way is to have top management as main nurse, unit manager and worker) read all ideas and giving them level of priority. Every idea should be appreciated, rest which will be implement into real life should be particularly awarded. Medical staff should feel appreciated and motivated for further actions.

How often should we organize summarize for reported ideas? Well, the findings can be tracked online, summarize meeting can be organize quarterly or half-yearly. This meeting is rather gathering data and giving feedback than people motivating. Motivation should be conducted complete year, day by day.


  1. Medical staff and administration is valuable source of information and ideas for hospital.
  2. Improvement communication process in organization.
  3. Increase employee engagement- also this is TWI element.
  4. Improvement patient safety.
  5. Knowing by employees problem solving tools.
  6. Eliminating muda.
  7. Descrease costs of hospital functioning.
  8. Improvement patient care quality.
  9. Prevention of infection.


  1. Each, reported idea is valuable and should be discussed by kaizen team. Think about how to do it, rather than why can’t we do it.
  2. Practise japan rule of small steps. It’s better improve something about 30% than doing nothing. There is no possibility to create ideal process first time.
  3. Kaizen team should systematically browse ideas.
  4. Every reported idea is appreciated. Internal employee motivation should be fulfilled.
  5. Kaizen is never ending story- process.

In conclusion, kaizen is first step to work organization according to lean healthcare approach. Solve the problems, without blaming.



Lean Process Katarzyna Złotowska

ul. Władysława Łokietka 5, 87-100 Toruń

NIP PL 599-305-88-22 REGON 364161132

e-mail: biuro@leanhospitals.pl tel. +48 508 238 811






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