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 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.
The Minnesota Office of Continuous Improvement 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 facilitator training.
The Public Health Quality Improvement Exchange (PHQIX) provides examples of public health Kaizen events from across the United States.
Lean in County Health Departments (YouTube): 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.