A3 Problem Solving and Its Use in Healthcare

A3 Problem Solving and Its Use in Healthcare

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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A3 Problem Solving and Its Use in Healthcare

The A3 problem solving method originated at Toyota, but since then it’s spread all over the world and to many different industries. It’s flexible enough to be easily adapted to a variety of contexts, and it doesn’t take too long to get used to applying it to your own company. Healthcare in particular is a field that has benefited a lot from the adoption of the A3 method, and it’s not hard to find examples with a little research. How exactly does the method benefit this particular environment though, and why has it gained so much popularity among healthcare workers?

A Constant Need for Change

Healthcare is a hectic world and it’s one of the fields that is noticeably impacted by developments in technology. This means that a design that worked well yesterday might be practically obsolete tomorrow, and you have to always be on your toes when designing the layout of your facilities.

The A3 method allows you to get a concise, sensible overview of your current operations, and figure out exactly where potential bottlenecks could be. It’s not that easy to get this kind of overview when looking at raw data alone, and visualizing the problem with the help of the typical charts used in the A3 method can be extremely helpful.

Avoiding Mistakes

Doctors are regularly under a lot of pressure, and it’s frighteningly common for professionals in this field to make mistakes. It can sometimes take a long time until the root cause of a recurring error is discovered, and it’s also not rare to learn that the problem has been right under your nose the whole time.

For example, if certain mandatory reports don’t always pass through the appropriate channels for them, this might not get reflected in the general documentation, and it’s the type of problem that could easily slip through the cracks. When you do make a good top-down overview of the whole operation, you should start seeing the important patterns quickly enough, and any problems should become obvious.

On the other hand, the A3 problem solving method is also ideal for creating an environment where everyone has an appropriate level of accountability for their actions, as it helps you link every person in the organization to a trail that’s easy to follow.

Laying down the Foundation for Constant Improvement

As we mentioned above, medical facilities tend to be subject to rapid development and they regularly get access to new technology to use. This also means that the staff must be kept in the right mindset for constant improvement, and this is something that the A3 method can help with. If you keep running into issues with implementing a certain type of new technology, you can break down the problem into its fundamental components and figure out where the major bottlenecks are. Again, a top-down view of the whole operation of the hospital/clinic can go a long way in ensuring that no issues come up when something new has to be brought into the picture.

Ideal Physical Layout for Patient Convenience

Last but definitely not least, you can improve your operations a lot by making the place more physically convenient for patients. The A3 method is an obvious contender here, as it can give you a very convenient overview of how your current layout is affecting the rate at which patients can be treated. This in turn can have quite the impact on the general morale in the facility, and it can improve the relations between your physicians to a great extent. This might sound exaggerated, but in the end, addressing simple problems one by one can result in positive effects tacking up quite quickly.


There’s a good reason the A3 problem solving method has gained popularity outside of its original field of inception, and healthcare is just one example. We’re sure that we’re going to see many more in the coming years, especially when one also considers how much evolution lean-related methodologies have been seeing recently. If you’re interested in how A3 can help your own place out, definitely take a look at recent developments in the field and see if it would be appropriate for the issues you’re experiencing.


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Original: http://www.shmula.com/a3-problem-solving-and-its-use-in-healthcare/24168/
By: Shmula Contributor
Posted: October 1, 2017, 4:23 pm

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