Finding meaning in ‘Lean’?


Future directions

After using Lean Management as an approach to prospectively improve physician well-being, we were able to use the Charter on Physician Well-being retrospectively as a “checklist” to identify additional gaps for targeted intervention to ensure all commitments are sufficiently addressed.

Overall, we found that, not surprisingly, Lean Management aligned best with the organizational commitments in the charter. Reviewing the organizational commitments, we found our biggest remaining challenges are in building supportive systems, namely ensuring sustainable workloads, offloading and delegating nonphysician tasks, and minimizing the burden of documentation and administration.

Dr. David Chia

Reviewing the societal commitments helped us to identify opportunities for future directions that we may not have otherwise considered. As a safety-net institution, we benefit from a strong sense of mission and shared values within our hospital and division. However, we recognize the need to continue to be vigilant to ensure that our physicians perceive that their own values are aligned with the division’s stated mission. Devoting a Kaizen-style retreat to well-being likely helped, and allocating divisional resources to a well-being committee indirectly helped, to foster a culture of well-being; however, we could more deliberately identify local policies that may benefit from advocacy or revision. Although our faculty identified interventions to improve interpersonal and individual drivers of well-being, these charter commitments did not have direct parallels in Lean philosophy, and organizations may need to deliberately seek to address these commitments outside of a Lean approach. Specifically, by reviewing the charter, we identified opportunities to provide additional resources for peer support and protected time for mental health care and self-care.


Lean Management can be an effective strategy to address many of the organizational commitments outlined in the Charter on Physician Well-being. This approach may be particularly effective for solving local challenges with systems and workflows. Those who use Lean as a primary method to approach systems improvement in support of the Quadruple Aim may need to use additional strategies to address societal and interpersonal and individual commitments outlined in the charter.

Dr. Sanyal-Dey is visiting associate clinical professor of medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and director of client services, LeanTaaS. Dr. Thomas is associate clinical professor of medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Dr. Chia is associate professor of clinical medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.


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