Video Spotlight: Lean 5S In Healthcare

5S is a valuable tool in lean management to assist in managing quality, and to seek root cause(s) of quality issues.

The 5S Animated WOD video gives an overview of the 5S process. The Lean 5S in MSICU video provides a look at how 5S was implemented in a Canadian hospital’s supply area.

Video Spotlight:  

This post is based on EMS Consulting Group article, 5S in Healthcare, by Darren Dolcemascolo, August 1, 2011, and the YouTube videos in the Spotlight. Image source: (c) Ingram Publishing / AGE Fotostock

Discussion Questions:

1. What is 5S?

Guidance: 5S is a program which involves following the steps of “sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain.  The 5 “S’s” all pertain to the physical workplace, but some programs add a sixth “s” for the physical and mental safety of workers.   These steps are explained in the 5S Animated WOD video.

2. What is the ultimate purpose of implementing a 5S program?

Guidance: Sometimes people refer to 5S as a “housekeeping” program.  It is true that a helpful byproduct of a 5S program is that clutter is removed, a clear organization system is developed, and standardized procedures are created.  This can result in a workplace where everything has a place, saving time when workers need to locate or replace materials or equipment.  It also helps ensure that adequate quantities of needed supplies are on hand.

In the UHN hospital video, interesting examples are given.  One example shows how expired, no longer used, or “mystery” items were removed from the storage room as part of the “sorting” process.  Then, the storage locations for many items were labeled and “set in order.” Also, a two-bin system was used to make sure that adequate, but not excessive, amounts of each item were on available in the storage room.  Finally, an example was shown for a layout of supplies on a cart.  Prior to developing a labeled layout for the supplies, it was very hard to know if every needed item was present, or even if one particular item was present.  After developing a labeled layout, it took no more than a couple of seconds to spot what was amiss and correct it.

However, far more important than the “housekeeping” aspects of 5S, is how the tool enables catching problems when they are small rather than once they have grown big.

Because there are standardized procedures, and because everything has a place, when something looks amiss, workers should follow Taichi Ohno’s guidance and “ask why five times” until a root cause is found.  This helps to identify problems that can then be addressed, corrected, and reported so as to avoid having them happen again.  It may uncover a problem with equipment, suppliers, workers who need further training, or other important matters that otherwise may have gone unnoticed.

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May 13, 2024 Newsletter
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