While Lean planning and operations have most often been applied to large hospitals, Lean can also have a positive effect on primary care clinics.

Lean eliminates waste, streamlining resources and improving workflows to provide exemplary patient services. By emphasizing flexibility and adaptability, Lean is especially useful for health­care organizations that must anticipate changes in medical tech­nology, procedures, care models, and reimbursement standards.

Lean helps organizations plan clinic spaces that adapt easily to change, providing long-term value for patient care and operational cost savings.

Lean doesn’t necessarily have all the answers about improving efficiency and workflows, though. Rather, Lean planning integrates information from care providers, patients, work process engineers and other stakeholders to establish a framework that supports Lean operations.

Lean is most effective when planners work closely with healthcare organizations to understand their current state and strategize an efficient future state. This, essentially, is planning from the inside out. First understand the current business model, then diagram a more efficient future business model, and finally plan spaces around the evolving business model—always keeping flexibility and adaptability in the forefront.

By planning from the inside out, healthcare organizations can realize immediate and future benefits over the life of a facility, including reduced costs, reduced errors, better infection control, better workflow, and enhanced patient care and outcomes.

Through long-term partnerships, healthcare designers and healthcare organizations can reinforce a lifetime commitment to Lean beyond the initial project completion. Lean has the potential to shape the culture of an organization well into the future.