Lean thinking – pathology


Lean thinking – pathology

Our team were engaged by a Pathology laboratory service provider to assist with the deployment of lean thinking methodologies to streamline the flow of Patient specimens.

Windsor Regional Hospital is one of the largest community hospitals in the province of Ontario. Serving more than 400,000 people, it provides advance care such as regional cancer services, paediatric services, intensive care, family birthing centre, stroke and neurosurgery, and a broad range of medical and surgical services.

The hospital operates clinics at two sites, offering the same range of services with variances in approach, timing and staff roles. Fracture Clinic patients routinely waited up to 3 hours greatly reducing patient satisfaction. We were engaged to improve the flow of the patients through the fracture clinic, reduce wait time and improve the processes for the fracture clinic staff members.


  •  Reductions achieved with 0.5 less FTE compared to pre-Lean times
  •  Walking distances reduced by 15%


  • Batching of samples causing significant delays in the processing time
  • Poor process flow resulting on backwards and forwards movement of the specimen
  • Layout and space concerns leading to excessive walking
  • Forms waiting to be scanned resulting in specimen not being able to be processed even if they had reached the next department
  • Errors due to patient details being entered incorrectly
  • Double handling of specimen through the process
  • Large fluctuations in workload throughout the day
  • Poor staff scheduling
  • No visibility of ahead or behind within the process


  • Reduction in turnaround time for processing of samples
  • Minimisation of processing steps and a reduction in complication of process by improved layout
  • Reduction in amount of rework
  • High level of staff engagement to promote ownership of the process
  • Development of a pilot ‘Lean’ site as a model for other central specimen reception’s across the organisation


  • Undertake a blue sky activity with all stakeholders and staff to understand their frustrations and concerns
  • Carry out waste walks to uncover areas of waste in the process
  • Map out the current process, identify areas of improvement and create a future state vision for the department
  • Create individual working groups to tackle the issues identified such as Layout improvements, one piece flow introduction and standardised work
  • Implement flow racking into the process to enable staff to run first in first out
  • Introduce standardised work documents, key performance indicator boards, 5S and problem and countermeasure processes

Other Healthcare projects

Let us help your business Go further.