Transportation is the most logistics-oriented waste. It’s the unnecessary movement of materials and, while healthcare isn’t moving tonnes of scaffolding and concrete, the materials being moved are far more precious and delicate.
For sake of comparison between Transportation and Motion waste (the latter traditionally focused on staff), we’re going to zero in on the movement of patients, as well as materials. Healthcare demands that we move patients back and forth and each move required resources. It’s our job to keep asking ourselves whether we’re doing it in the most efficient way possible.
Transportation offers no value to the patient. In fact, the longer that any transportation takes, the more potential harm it could cause to patient well-being.
In the medical industry, it’s also one of the wastes that you can cut freely with little restriction from stringent guidelines. More so than other industries, healthcare must navigate complex waters of regulations and red tape when fighting some of the deadly wastes, but this is not so with Transportation.
Running Down Hallways:
This waste starts at the beginning: with building layout. Do you need to travel to the other side of the clinic everytime you need a basic medication?
Your storage room should be located near the centre of the action. If it’s not, consider a smaller, secondary storage space for your staff to grab the basics that they need every day.
If there’s medication you’re using all the time, consider bringing it from the pharmacy to where you need it most to avoid travelling to get it. A lot of transportation waste reduction comes down to listing the materials that you use most and streamlining the logistics to get them where they’re needed.
Every time a patient moves somewhere, someone needs to prep the room, show him or her the way, and reset the last room for the next patient. Think about all the reasons why you shuffle and shift patients through your clinic. Are they all necessary?
Do patients have to be moved across rooms because specific equipment isn’t available in the first room? If so, could prep be done ahead of time to prep the first room, based on an estimation of patient needs, so 2 rooms don’t need to be prepped and reset from the start?
You can’t afford to move samples and other highly perishable materials more than necessary. Make sure that, when they’re taken, they are moved to a central location in the clinic to be dealt with appropriately from there (ie. moved to the lab or examined in-house).
The Other Kind of Waste:
You’ll generate medical waste as a natural part of your practice. Disposing of it is tightly regulated with strict guidelines for non-compliance. Many healthcare providers use a third party company to ensure proper transport and disposal of their medical waste.