In the manufacturing industry, lean management practices are extremely popular. Lean management began in that sector, based on the belief that there were unnecessary wastes and lag times involved in the creation of any one product. When the waste is eliminated, production speeds up and costs decline. Physicians can apply this theory to managing their practices, according to Physicians Practice. As changes sweep the world of health care, taking good care of a practice's finances is becoming more important than ever, and so is efficiency within a practice.

Eliminating waste through knowing the 7 muda
Lean management is based on eliminating seven types of waste. These wastes are referred to as muda in Japanese, the originating language of lean management. Wastes fall into these categories: transport, inventory, motion, waiting, over-production, over-processing and defects. With a little creativity, it's possible to apply any of these muda to running a medical practice. Practitioners can focus on these 7 categories and how they may play out in their own practices. It's important not to lose sight of the main goal of lean management, which is to reduce costs as well as improve efficiency. It's also necessary to take a holistic view of a practice; any choice a physician or administrator makes to reduce costs needs to make sense for the functioning of the practice overall.

Lean management in practice: Wastes of motion
Taking one muda from the list, practices can consider motion. Waste in this category comes when people or equipment move more than is strictly required to complete a task or perform a process. If physicians routinely need to leave an exam room to acquire equipment, or spend a long time searching for it, there's a motion problem. One way to fix this is to standardize each exam room so that a complete set of common equipment is in each, and organized in the same way in every room. This can save time for physicians, and can additionally help staff keep a more accurate inventory so shortages never occur.

Efficiency and cost savings in medical billing
It's also possible to apply lean management principles to medical billing and coding. Waste in this area can come in many forms, from staff who aren't adequately trained to delays from overworked employees at a practice itself. One way to eliminate these sources of waste is to work with a medical billing and coding company. This removes the above issues and can even help bring in more revenue for a practice, as revenue cycle management companies focus exclusively on obtaining the highest rates of reimbursement possible in all cases.