Akron Children’s Hospital Shares Secrets to Building a Lean Facility in New Book

Opening a new healthcare facility is a daunting challenge – especially when you’re trying to build it on time, under budget and with 20 percent less building space.

That’s exactly what Akron Children’s Hospital accomplished with its 368,735-square-foot Kay Jewelers Pavilion, which opens May 5, two months earlier than planned and with more than $60 million in cost savings from the original estimate.

Akron_book1The hospital is sharing its success story in a new book called L3: Building a Lean Hospital Facility.

Written by leaders involved in designing and building the Kay Jewelers Pavilion, the book serves as a resource for hospitals, architects and construction companies considering Lean design projects of their own.

The book features insights from hospital staff, project architects and construction managers. The authors detail the principles of the Integrated Lean Project Delivery approach, as developed by The Boldt Company, and the three “L’s” – Lean operations, Lean design and Lean construction – to improve productivity, eliminate waste, reduce costs and enhance the patient experience.

The book also offers advice on building a business case for using the Lean approach, as well as facilitating project management.

“Following the integrated Lean process was an exercise in critical thinking, risk-reward management and team collaboration to optimize the building for family centered care,” said Grace Wakulchik, chief operating officer, Akron Children’s Hospital. “We’ve been using Lean Six Sigma principles in operations for a few years, so it was great to be able to test the practice on a construction project.”

The integrated Lean process helped the teams design a seven-story medical facility that’s more than 34,000 square feet smaller than it would have been by following a traditional building design practice.

As detailed in the book, team collaboration is at the heart of the Integrated Lean Project Delivery model. Akron Children’s executives, physicians, nurses, clinical staff and even patient families met regularly with architects, builders and the hospital’s in-house Lean Six Sigma experts to discuss ideal spaces for patient care delivery.

Critical input came from a series of kaizen events held at a warehouse where full-scale, cardboard replicas of each floor were built. The teams were then able to ‘try out’ the space, such as in a mock trauma scenario, and make layout adjustments to improve the building’s space, flow, equipment and furniture well before construction started.

“The integrated Lean design approach helped Akron Children’s realize cost and space savings that have enabled additional technology and resource investments throughout the Kay Jewelers Pavilion,” Wakulchik said. “If sharing our experience leads to other hospitals being able to make similar strides with their capital projects, then we’ve done our part to educate others and promote responsible building practices.”

The $200-million campus expansion project began in 2012, and in addition to the Kay Jewelers Pavilion includes a six-level parking garage, which opened in the fall of 2013.

The pavilion will house a new neonatal intensive care unit with 75 private rooms, an emergency department and trauma bay, outpatient surgery center and labor and delivery unit for high-risk newborns.

The companies assisting the hospital with project management include The Boldt Company,  Hasenstab Architects, Inc., CBRE Healthcare, HKS, Inc. and Welty Building Company.

L3: Building a Lean Hospital Facility is available for purchase on Amazon.

Photo source: akronchildrens.org.

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Posted May 4, 2015

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