Vertical Bed Lifts Bring Lean Principles to Healthcare Operations
by Scott Olpin, on February 2, 2022
Lean methodology – creating ongoing improvements in operational efficiency – is relatively new to healthcare. But the benefits have easily transferred from manufacturing to hospital management. Lean operations primarily focus on the reduction of waste. In the healthcare setting, waste isn’t confined to inefficient patient care or record-keeping processes. In fact, a significant source of cost savings comes from applying lean principles to space utilization.
When it comes to storage space, hospital beds are notorious “space hogs.” Beds cycle from storage to patient room to disinfection station and back to storage; most hospitals maintain approximately 2-3 times as many beds as they have patient exam and treatment rooms. At any given time, 1/3 of a hospital’s beds are in storage, representing a considerable use of space.
Vertical bed lifts store 5 beds in the space of one. That’s an efficiency improvement of 400%, something that would make any lean management consultant smile.
Even better, those efficient bed lifts free up non-revenue space for revenue-producing purposes. How many more patients can be cared for, when a hospital converts 80% of its bed-storage space to exam or treatment room? How much advanced equipment can be added, when additional space is created through storage space efficiencies?
Beyond efficient space utilization, lean principles look for improved safety as another form of cost savings. Improperly stored hospital beds accrue costs in the form of fines and accidents. When storage is overcrowded, beds often end up in hallways – a violation of fire codes and OSHA regulations. In one southern California jurisdiction, the fire department charges a $500 fine for each bed in a hallway. That adds up to real money in a short time.
Inefficient bed storage consumes space and money without adding value to the process of healthcare delivery. Lean principles strive to turn wasteful consumption around for the benefit of the entire operation. Add vertical bed lifts to your hospital’s storage space, and see the lean benefits accruing to your bottom line.