May 5 2018
On September 7, 2017, France2’s Envoyé Spécial (“Special Correspondent”) had a feature about a suicide epidemic among nurses at French public hospitals and blamed it on the adoption of management practices from the private sector, and singled out “Lean Management” as a method from the car industry that resulted in treating patients like cars and nurses like assembly line workers. It went on to explain that it was Ford’s system “from the 1930s,” dressed up by Toyota with a few Japanese words.
Besides the reporters’ inability to get basic facts — Ford’s system is not from the 1930s and Toyota’s is not a copy of it — I don’t recognize here any of the approaches I have heard from colleagues involved in health care, like Mark Graban, Pascal Dennis, or Katie Anderson, and it doesn’t match my experience as a patient in a healthcare network that has had an active Lean program for four years. Mostly, what I have noticed is less waiting when I show up for appointments, friendlier staff, and enhanced online services, including communications with doctors.