Lean thinking has been introduced in healthcare during the latest three decades for the benefit of patients, employees and hospital organisation. This innovative management approach has been proven successful in health care organizations. In fact, Lean principles hold the promise of reducing or eliminating wasted time, money, and energy in health care, creating a system that is efficient, effective, and truly responsive to the needs of patients. Aim of our work is to demonstrate that the Lean approach may be applied to a Nuclear Medicine Department improving performance and efficiency.
Nowadays, the need of our healthcare service is improving quality and efficiency while controlling costs. Within this context, Lean is considered as a way to transform an organization into a safe and high-quality, high-performing healthcare delivery system. Lean Thinking philosophy is based on a simple concept: eliminate wastes and make people focus on value-added activities, based on the pull of the patient. When waste such as delays, errors, transportation, motion, and so forth are reduced or eliminated, what remains is the ability to provide a higher quality and performing service. The lean approach, which emphasizes process analysis, has particular relevance to Nuclear Medicine Departments, which depend on a smooth flow of patients and have to provide an high quality service, reducing radiations burden to the staff and population and ensuring patient and worker safety.
Applying a Lean approach in diagnostic departments, such as Nuclear Medicine or Radiology, can have many benefits: 1) Reduce clinical and technical errors and mistakes, 2) Reduce patients and report waiting times, 3) Improve patients outcomes, 4) Increase staff productivity, 5) Decrease costs, 6) Improve employee and customer satisfaction.
To do so, Lean can rely on many tools grew out of the need to have mechanisms in place to support the Lean way of thinking and to allow flow to permeate a process. Value stream mapping (VSM), Spaghetti Chart, Cell Design (CD), 5S, Poka Yoke, and Kanban are among the most popular Lean tools. Mapping tools, such as Spaghetti Chart can help the team establish the optimum layout for a department or ward based on observations of the distances travelled by patients, staff or radionuclides. By analysing the lines, the team can identify unnecessary movements that determine waste of time and energy. This tool supports the team on the analysis of healthcare workers and patients pathways in order to optimize the workflow, on behalf of their safety. In terms of radioprotection, paths should be separated as much as possible between the radioactive patients and health professionals.
Our aim is to underline the strength of this structured method as a work philosophy and workplace culture, based on simple principles but not easy to succeed.

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