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Keywords:

  • facilitator;
  • Lean method;
  • lung cancer;
  • patient pathway

Abstract

Introduction:  Patient flow during workup for lung cancer is often difficult to influence because of delay at many levels: patient delay, doctors' delay and waiting time for X-ray and CT scan, referral to specialist, and waiting time for chemotherapy and radiotherapy or surgery. A mean workup time of 4 months is not unusual.

Objectives:  To improve quality and shorten the workup time for patients with lung cancer.

Methods:  It was decided to employ a program designed by the Toyota car industry, the Lean process, as a tool to improve workup time. A Lean process implicates all levels of an institution with project and focus groups having workshops to analyse present status and suggest improvements.

Results:  Since introducing the Lean project, we have decreased the workup time from a mean of 64 days to 16 days, and the median time from diagnosis to surgery was reduced from 26.5 days to 15 days.

Conclusion:  It is feasible to improve patient flow for patients with lung cancer by employing the Lean method as a pathway instrument.

Please cite this paper as: Aasebø U, Strøm HH and Postmyr M. The Lean method as a clinical pathway facilitator in patients with lung cancer. Clin Respir J 2012; 6: 169–174.