Flexibility is a key concept of lean production. Ideally, a manufacturing line or cell should be able to produce a variety of products. And employees should be cross-trained to work on any one of those products.
This concept is now being applied in healthcare, in the form of what is called a “universal floor” in a hospital. A recent article from Health Leaders Media highlights use of this approach at
Since implementing the concept in 2007, the article says, “Cedars-Sinai's innovation has lowered wait times for patients being admitted from the ED and elsewhere, reduced the number of patient safety events, and increased staff member satisfaction.”
A universal floor is one on which most patient consultations can take place. Rooms are created with multiple types of patient care in mind and staff members are trained in many specialties to facilitate patients' needs on the one floor. This reduces the need for patients to travel throughout the hospital…
Cedars-Sinai wanted to address patient flow issues occurring due to a lack of available beds and a constant influx of patients needing beds, similar to many hospitals in the country. Ideally, the universal floor would be able to accept patients who were visiting with their doctors and complaining of chest pain, for example, without having to go through the ED. Often physicians will send patients to the ED as a last resort because of the lack of open beds.
In addition to improving patient flow throughout the hospital and reducing patient safety errors, the universal floor has allowed staff members to spend more time with patients, making for a more comfortable patient stay.
Sounds like a win-win situation all around.