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Lean Design: The new paradigm in Healthcare Prototyping, Planning and Simulation


In summary, a LEAN DESIGN/3P event is a week long, highly structured process that uses many lean tools based on pre-determined, quantifiable metrics. Value stream process mapping, gemba (field observations), spagetti diagrams, full scale rapid prototyping and simulation are used to achive the desired metrics. Those closest to the work are assembled for a week to focus on the design without interruption. The design team participates but does not drive outcome. The facilitator is assigned to move the process forward, not influence the outcome.

In this process, the traditional user group meeting structure is replaced by the Lean 3P week. For example, if new patient unit is desired here is the team would consist of care providers, support staff, supply chain and community members for the consumer perspective. Starting with metrics and “monuments”, those items that can not be changed, the teams goes through intense brainstorming sessions gathering he best flow ideas leading to an initial 2D layout. The design team provides ongoing observations on code compliance, materials, current best practice without influncing the process.

The validation of the plan is a 3D, full scale prototype of critical and complicated spaces. The objective is to test and simulate the use by the end user. Changes and refinements are immediate and simulation is done again. Once there is agreement on the plan, success is defined by the metrics achieved. The design team finalizes the early schematic by documenting all details and learnings from the simulation.

Moving forward in the design and construction phases, the Lean/3P team continues to be a part of the project with any significant changes vetted through them.
Our experience is improved flow, fewer post occupancy changes and a group well informed consumer. (1 Continuing  Education Unit) 


Learning Objectives:

  1. Provide a Lean Design process overview.
  2. Comparison of Lean Design to traditional design methods
  3. Revised role of the owner, user groups and the design team
  4. Review case studies using Lean design processes



Patrick Leahy, AIA, EDAC, LEAD AP BD+C, NCARB, Director of Architecture, Senior Healthcare Planner+Designer, & Project Manager Burns & McDonnell Healthcare & Research Global Practice

Hal Hudson, Director of Construction and Lean/3P Facilitator Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa

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Download the EDAC CEU form>

EDAC Course ID:
September 20, 2012
Class Frequency:
Lecture/Educational Session