Doctor PDCA

I had an experience recently to renew my excitement to help transform hospitals with Lean.  Our son’s pediatrician is helping us deal with his colic.  The doctor said he wants to try one change at a time to determine what will help my boy.  This is Plan-Do-Check-Act!

Some organizations want to implement a ton of stuff at once.  If the problem is fixed, it is difficult to pinpoint which of the myriad of countermeasures did the trick.  If the problem is not fixed, they throw a bunch more changes to the wall to see what sticks. 

Our pediatrician patiently tries one thing at a time.  Once the issue is resolved, he will then begin removing some of the counter-measures (medication and other soothing techniques) and continue to check that the colic is still gone.  How often do organizations remove some of the counter-measures after they implement a bunch at once?

PDCA is scientific thinking and doctors use it.  My excitement is renewed because I see how using PDCA with providers will help make Lean relevant for them in hospitals.

Keep on improving!

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Filed under Change Management, Improvements, Lean Hospital, Plan-Do-Check-Act

3 responses to “Doctor PDCA

  1. Mark Welch


    Nice example in this post. One of the angles I often take with clinical staff at the hospital where I work is that all we are trying to do with lean is use the same problem-solving approach physicians use when treating patients, only we are applying it to our daily work. I seem to get more agreement/buy-in taking that angle. The better, and faster we can do PDCA, the better and quicker we’ll be able to have “a good day at work.”

    Also, congrats on your son!

  2. PDSA is similar to the scientific method which gave me great hope physicians would take to it easily. I have not found this to be the case. But I do think it is a natural fit and some physicians seem to see that.

    One-Factor-At-a-Time (OFAT) experimenting can be slow (especially if there are more than 3 variables). The OFAT concept is simple but design of experiments has shown it is much more effective to vary multiple variables at the same time (which also captures interactions which are often quite important in complex systems – such as human beings).

  3. Pingback: Make Healthcare Awesome | Improve With Me

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