Mass production methods for mass vaccination: improving flow and operational performance in a COVID-19 mass vaccination centre using Lean.
Smith IM; Newcastle University Business School, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, UK email@example.com.
Smith DTL; Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, Blackburn, Lancashire, UK.
BMJ open quality [BMJ Open Qual] 2021 Sep; Vol. 10 (3).
The COVID-19 pandemic has infected tens of millions of people worldwide causing many deaths. Healthcare systems have been stretched caring for the most seriously ill and lockdown measures to interrupt COVID-19 transmission have had adverse economic and societal impacts. Large-scale population vaccination is seen as the solution.In the UK, a network of sites to deploy vaccines comprised National Health Service hospitals, primary care and new mass vaccination centres. Due to the pace at which mass vaccination centres were established and the scale of vaccine deployment, some sites experienced problems with queues and waiting times. To address this, one site used the Lean systematic improvement approach to make rapid operational improvements to reduce process times and improve flow.The case example identifies obstacles to flow experienced by a mass vaccination centre and how they were addressed using Lean concepts and techniques. Process cycle times were used as a proxy metric for efficiency and flow. Based on daily demand volume and open hours, takt time was calculated to give a process completion rate to achieve flow through the vaccination centre.The mass vaccination centre achieved its aim of reducing process times and improving flow. Administrative and clinical cycle times were reduced sufficiently to increase throughput and the number of queues and queueing time were reduced improving client experience.The design and operational management of vaccination centre processes contribute to client experience, efficiency and throughput. Lean provides a systematic approach that can improve operational processes and facilitate client flow through mass vaccination centres.
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