Are you adding value with your practice?

I just started reading A Factory of One: Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Performance by Daniel Markovitz.  This is my first blog entry on this book and I am sure there will be many more.  What I have read so far, though, has given me some food for thought.

Markovitz indicates that from the Lean perspective, any activity you do fits into one of three categories: value-added, necessary but non-value-added (incidental), and waste.

Applying his definition of value-added work to the health care fields, like mental health or eye care, I define value-added work as something that a client or patient is willing to pay for, improves his or her life in some fashion, and needs to be done right the first time.

Let’s take a mental health example.  Perhaps you want to offer a type of therapy to clients since you just got training on it and you think it will really improve your client’s mental health.  You also know that if you don’t do it right the first time, your client won’t be helped and she may lose confidence in your ability to help her.

So, you start bringing this method of therapy up to current and new clients and you find that the clients are not ready to try that approach to therapy.   Now, it has moved from the value-added category.

Or maybe you are an eye care professional and think a certain type of lens is the best thing since sliced bread.  You decide to stock them in your eye care practice and know that with them people will be able to see better than they ever could have hoped.

The response from patients when they see how great the lenses work is phenomenal.  When they hear the price difference, though, they don’t respond well during these trying times.  So, unless the eye care professional can work on a way to get people to realize the extra money is money well-spent, the time it takes to demonstrate the new lenses is now wasted.

As you move through your practice, especially if you are a sole practitioner, we urge you to try to identify those activities that are truly value-added and focus on doing them more.  For those that are incidental, try to get someone else to do them so you can focus on value-added activities.  For those that are in the waste category, get rid of them!

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