Stuttgart. If hospitals would organize their processes better, hospital doctors and nursing staff could spend much more time treating their patients. This is the result of analyses over many years by management consultancy Porsche Consulting GmbH, Bietigheim-Bissingen, of more than 50 hospitals. The subsidiary of Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart, specializes in implementing so-called lean processes which – taking automobile production as an example – avoid waste and thus increase efficiency.
Hospital doctors are only able to spend about a quarter of their time on their core task – patient care – according to the consultants' analyses. Of 7 hours 44 minutes per day, a ward doctor is only available for examinations for 32 minutes and for patient consultations for 1 hour 39 minutes. This is just 28 percent of the available time. "The doctor loses the rest, mainly through unnecessary waiting, searching, needless paths, meetings being too long, and documentation," says Eberhard Weiblen, CEO Porsche Consulting. Poor coordination, a lack of agreement and unnecessary hectic led, according to Weiblen, to doctors and nursing staff barely being able to carry out a task without being interrupted. Assistant doctors, who are frequently burdened by a particularly high workload, are often forced to change their workplace every twenty minutes. This increases the risk of errors significantly.
Faulty planning also leads to existing hospital capacities being wasted and for many patients extends waiting times and hospital stays unnecessarily, the studies by Porsche Consulting showed. The results are supported by experienced practitioners with typical examples: "An operating theater is used by many doctors on the basis of personal considerations rather than in the sense of the greatest possible use," urologist Dr. Michael Nathan, head of the Luxembourg Hospital Center Hospitalier Emile Mayrisch, told "Caracho", Porsche Consulting's customer magazine. Nathan fears: "Soon, we won't be able to forgive this type of waste anymore. As long as we doctors are unable to prove that we are working highly efficiently, politicians will rightly cut us down."
Together with the Porsche advisors, the Luxembourg hospital was able to improve the use of the operating area by 31 percent. At the same time, the total duration of preparatory examinations before an operation was reduced by an amazing 98 percent as a result of consistent admittance planning. Since the reorganization, the hospital director observes significant higher levels of patient satisfaction. Nathan summarizes: "There are processes that can be improved by the production line principle in industry, without the patient getting the impression being treated on a production line."
The experts from Porsche Consulting support companies in the implementation and application of Lean Management. Founded in 1994 as an internal management consultancy for Porsche AG, the subsidiary currently employs 230 people. Apart from automotive suppliers, the consultants' clients include the consumer goods industry, construction companies, aviation and shipbuilding. The basis of the consultancy is formed by solutions, which are proven and tested in the production of premium sports vehicles in the Porsche factories and which are transferable to many areas of the economy outside the automobile industry. These include the launch of precise cycles and the so-called pull principles, and the greatest possible waste-free processes according to "just in time" and "just in sequence" principles.