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What is Kanban and How Can It Help Your Behavioral Health Practice?

What is Kanban and How Can It Help Your Behavioral Health Practice?

posted by: Nicole Hovey date: Oct 05, 2018 category: Blog comments: Comments Off on What is Kanban and How Can It Help Your Behavioral Health Practice?

Kanban is a visual system that helps manage workflow. The word “kanban” is Japanese for “visual signal” or “card.” This system can help teams communicate the work to be done and when to do it, and can help identify and fix bottlenecks to help the work proceed most efficiently.

Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer for Toyota, used a form of Kanban in the Toyota Production System, known as Lean Manufacturing in the United States, to eliminate waste. This helped Toyota achieve a just-in-time production control system, increasing their productivity and limiting costly inventory of raw materials and half-finished products.

The main tool in Kanban is a visual Kanban board. This board can be electronic, such as an Excel spreadsheet or an app like Trello, or a physical board on an office wall. At its most basic, this board will include three columns: “To do,” “Doing,” and “Done.” These columns can be further divided to accommodate more complex processes.

With Kanban, the goal is to limit the number of tasks in the “Doing” column at any one time. When one task is finished, the next one is brought into play.

Benefits of Kanban

Organizations that adopt a Kanban system can expect numerous benefits, such as:

  • Transparency
    Everyone involved can look at the Kanban board and know the state of the process, and what still needs to be done and when.
  • Reduction of wasted work
    Work is only done as needed, reducing the risk of starting or finishing a task too soon.
  • Reduced multitasking and overburdening
    Teams attempt to limit the amount of work in any one column. Limiting the amount of work-in-progress can prevent them from trying to do too much at once.
  • More collaboration
    Instead of each person working on their own isolated to-do list, team members who use a Kanban board can see the status of each task, and what everyone has left to do.

How is BestNotes using Kanban?

BestNotes has incorporated Kanban into our software development processes. We visualize our work using a Kanban board to help limit work-in-progress and increase efficiency. Teams meet regularly to examine our Kanban board and decide which tasks to make a priority for the week.

Can your practice use Kanban?

Even behavioral health providers can apply the Kanban system. How can you start?

Create a Kanban board, either electronic or physical, to visualize all your work.
Limit work-in-progress. Collaborate with coworkers and break down each project into simple tasks.
Manage workflow. Use the Kanban board to identify bottlenecks and become more aware of how to prioritize work.
Make your policies clear.
Use feedback. Meet with team members regularly to identify priorities and consider where you can make improvements.
Use the scientific method to make changes. Create a hypothesis, then do an experiment to test that hypothesis. Analyze the data and draw a conclusion. Report on whether your results support your hypothesis or not.

Want to learn more about Kanban and how you can incorporate it into your practice? Interested in an EHR system that emphasizes collaboration and efficiency?
Contact BestNotes today.

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