Realizing the potential of VISUAL MANAGEMENT in Healthcare industry

Realizing the potential of VISUAL MANAGEMENT in Healthcare industry

There are various challenges faced by Healthcare industry today. Increasing demand on services, shortages of doctors, specialists & other supporting staff, Lack of self-discipline, Poor infrastructure in many centers, Opportunities for mistakes increased as procedures became even more complex, increasing cost of equipment’s& material, increased dissatisfaction from patients, etc. Therefore it has become very important to train & engage healthcare staff, to have workplace hygiene & organization, to focus on improving the processes, etc.

There many proven, efficient and powerful improvement tools those are relevant to Healthcare industry. The leaders should realize & understand the importance of each tool and start using it to deliver what is expected out of them. Visual management is one of the tools that help to make the job easier. By creating a visual work environment we can breathe life into the processes and make them come alive. But what is visual management?

Visual managementis set of tools & techniques that make operation standards visible so that employees can follow them more easily. These tools & techniques expose muda (waste) so that it can be prevented and eliminated. Various scoreboards, control charts, team communication boards, or other types of visuals are used to keep vital information flowing between individuals, cells & departments.

Visual management allows communication quickly and effectively in a non – verbal way. This can also quickly highlight any problems allowing them to be fixed rapidly rather than developing. Few example of visual management applications include goal setting & performance tracking, Scheduling, Ideas sharing & team communication, report KAIZEN™ results & awards, etc.

Manufacturing has focused on visual management for a long time, but how does it apply in Lean Healthcare?  The keyobjectives of visual management are: 

  • Make the work visible and more obvious
  • Make the current performance against patients requirement visible
  • Make waste jump out at you, etc. 

Visual management is one of the most fundamental and necessary elements to success or to sustain the improvements happening within the gemba (real place).  

The five step process of establishing good visual management.

    1.  Define what it is that you are trying to communicate
    2.  Determine who needs to have this information
    3.  Determine who needs to collect or disseminate the information
    4.  Determine the actual control method
    5.  Train everyone that is affected by the new visual control method


Before Visual management

  • Empiric management
  • Process dependent on human experience
  • Long process
  • Process with faults and variation
  • Money “blocked“


  • Standard process
  • More consistent process
  • muda elimination
  • Variability elimination KANBAN

Medication warehouse

  • Standardized supermarket
  •  Easy management
  •  Zero shortages
  • Unidose A references always available 

But you should not forget that there are also barriers to good visual management. Visual management is often an area that people shy away from. Below given are the few barriers:

  • It is simple to understand but difficult to execute well
  • It takes efforts & discipline
  • It takes consistency
  • Everyone needs to be involved in maintain the momentum 

Finally, visuals need to be built bottom up to be more effective.  There are many examples of leaders trying to build visual systems and then trying to cascade them down to the front line level.  It is essential that over time you adjust your systems to support the teams where value added work is taking place as opposed to the other way around.  

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