Lean Pharmacy: Doing More with Less

September 2010 - Vol.7 No. 9 - Page #1

If you have followed the state of the economy over the last decade, particularly the roller coaster rides taken by some of the world’s largest corporations, then the concept of lean principles is probably familiar to you. The functions that fall under this umbrella term, however, may not be so familiar. On the surface, the idea is fairly simple: Determine what the core functions of your operation are, then take steps to eliminate, mitigate, or reorganize non-value-added activities. The results of this process, in an ideal state, include reduced waste, improved product and service quality, and greater employee and management satisfaction.

As lean principles became integral throughout the automotive and information technology industries, it was only a matter of time before they began to be adopted by the heath care industry. As a health care practitioner, the idea that lean principles could be successfully ingrained into the industry requires no stretch of the imagination. For many years the governing philosophy in health care has been that patient safety should supersede all issues, including—and often despite—economic constraints and waste production. It has taken some time to realize that conscious application of economic principles and reduction of waste is actually concomitant to increased patient safety. The underlying fact is that most operational processes carry the imprint of the inherently fallible human hand. Therefore, making work functions more efficient and productive for staff will result in better quality, value, and service for the customer, or in your case, the patient. This, clearly, is the ultimate goal of any enterprise.

With this in mind, Pharmacy Purchasing & Products is pleased to present Lean Pharmacy: Using Time-tested Manufacturing Process Tools to Achieve Efficiencies in Pharmacy Operations. This white paper focuses on introducing lean principles into health-system pharmacy, and defining how those principles can positively impact your operations. It is available online at www.pppmag.com/leanpharmacy. This paper can help you identify common sources of waste, evaluate your inventory management and distribution, and consider a vision of the future of lean pharmacy operations. In addition to these valuable lessons, you also can qualify for one hour (0.1 CEUs) of ACPE credit by successfully completing the evaluation at the end of the paper. This ACPE-accredited white paper is supported by an educational grant from Baxa Corporation.

Our goal at PP&P is to provide information and resources for the continual improvement of health-system pharmacy practice. This too is a basic lean principle: There is always room for improvement. We hope you will take the time to read this material closely and consider its wide-reaching potential.

All the best,

R. Mitchell Halvorsen


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