Kaizen: Kaizen is the Japanese word for "change for the better." A Kaizen event is a facilitated group effort that looks closely at a process to target wait time, duplicative work, and other waste that makes your job more difficult than it needs to be. A process is mapped out in detail and then wastes and value-added activities are identified using Lean principles.
Lean: Lean thinking comes from the Japanese manufacturing industry and has been applied to many industries including health care and public health. The idea is to work smarter, not harder. After solutions are brainstormed, a new, future state process is mapped out. A detailed work plan is then developed, listing the critical actions necessary to move toward the future state.
Examples of Lean at the Minnesota Dept. of Health
- Drinking Water Protection: Compliance and Enforcement
(PDF: 440KB / 20 pages)
- Indoor Environments and Radiation: X-Ray Unit
(PDF: 369KB / 29 pages)
- Nursing Home Licensing and Certification (PDF: 208KB / 1 page)
- Newborn Screening and Newborn/Child Follow-Up
(PDF: 58KB / 1 page)
Enterprise Lean (Minnesota)
Enterprise Lean [Attn: Non-MDH link] is Minnesota's coordinated state government initiative, which works to improve the organizational performance and results in Minnesota's state government agencies. Enterprise Lean offers introductory-level Lean courses, as well as Lean faciliator training.
Lean in County Health Departments (North Carolina)
The video below describes how county health departments in North Carolina partnered with North Carolina State University to improve billing processes, insurance filing, and workload schedules. Lean thinking can be contagious and lead to continuous improvement across the entire workplace.