If you’re an industrial engineer with lean skills who is retired, unemployed or just looking for something different, maybe you should consider entering the field of healthcare.
Junell Scheeres would like you to. She’s a consultant with VHA, Inc., a company that works with a large alliance of not-for-profit healthcare organizations across the country. Recently, I heard her speak at the conference of the
Scheeres quotes the
Those of us in the lean community have been aware from some time of the powerful movement for greater quality and efficiency in healthcare. Interest in lean concepts is growing as part of that movement.
(As an aside, Productivity Press has hired a new acquisitions editor, Kris Mednansky, whose mission is to develop books for the healthcare market. You will be seeing some of these within the next year.)
Scheeres outlined several case studies in her presentation in which industrial engineering approaches were used to address problems. Lean methodologies were part of what she described.
For instance, she told of how an internal audit at a 403-bed hospital found over 60 percent lost charges in supplies, which led to lost revenue, excess inventory and staff frustration. Implementation of 5S and visual controls led to significant improvements.
(I was amused that in this example, the most common description of 5S as “sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain” was transformed into “sort, straighten, sanitize, standardize and sustain.” In healthcare, you don’t just shine, you sanitize.)
Scheeres urges engineers to get involved with healthcare organizations. One way, she notes, is through IIE's Society for Health Systems.
“Healthcare is actively seeking viable solutions to the dynamic pressures of the industry,” Scheeres contends. “Industrial engineers bring a comprehensive toolkit ideal to the healthcare setting.”
I would argue that there are plenty of other people besides engineers who can bring value to healthcare. Non-engineers in operations or logistics, for example, who have experience and who understand process improvement can also make a significant contribution.
I suspect the number of healthcare organizations that understand that is still relatively small. But it is growing. And the more it grows, the more opportunities that will be available to good people from other industries.
P.S. – If you’re looking for a good speaker, Scheeres is folksy, personable, energetic, and extremely bright. If the topic fits, consider her.