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What is lean management in veterinary medicine?

Everybody wants to improve their business and daily practice routine. A clinic is considered different from other businesses because people think that management theories will not apply to this field. The fact is veterinary clinics can get benefits from different management techniques.

Veterinary clinics can use the latest way of management theory called lean management. We will give you detail about lean theory and what is lean management in veterinary medicine?


What does lean management mean?

To understand and implement a lean model, you will have to learn basic lean principles. Lean management was introduced by Toyota when the company was not performing well. After implementation, it became the most successful automobile company. They introduced the special system which focused on continuous improvement.

A lean system can be defined as a system of the continuous improvement cycle. Lean management can be further subdivided into five small domains. It starts by identifying the way of management you want to apply. You will have to define the process by which you are going to apply this management. You need to implement the required principals after that.

You will have to measure the result of the process. Finally, you are going to make adjustments and start the first step again. you will have to continue this process again. It is a never-ending process of improvement.


What is lean in simple terms?

We will give you a detailed overview of lean management in simple terms. Lean is a continuous improvement system that allows you to implement a change and measure the results. You can then tweak the change again to measure the results again. This will be a continuous process and your company will always improve. Considering that you want to implement the lean style of management in the veterinary clinic, we have to take a specific example of the clinic practice.



In a veterinary clinic, the customers were complaining. According to customers when they call, it was instantly connected sometimes and other times they had to wait for a long time. They complained that there was no pattern in connecting their call to the veterinarian. The clinic used the lean management process to solve this issue in five steps.



As the problem came, the clinic had to identify why the customer was facing this problem. They identified the problem as a time management issue. As the problem was identified, the next step was to quantify this problem. All the parties involved in this issue had to sit together and analyze the problem. The identification step is a part where we collect the data. No problem can be truly found without supporting data. In any veterinary clinic, the excel and other data collection forms should be available so the staff can collect the data. This will help you follow the lean model and your company will become efficient.



The next step was to analyze the problem. The veterinary clinic collected all the data of the calls and found that the customer complaints were genuine and their system was at fault. Upon analyzing the data, they found that customers were continuously calling the clinic and the staff was busy with the visiting customers. This means that you will have to collect the data for the problem at the identification stage. According to the lean theory, no problem can be solved if there is no data because the lean system is completely technical.


Suggesting solution

After brainstorming, a solution was suggested. They should put a waiting time between receiving the calls and attending to the customer calls. This waiting period was finalized to be one minute. It was suggested that way this way, all the customers will have to wait for a fixed amount of time and the uncertainty will be removed.



This veterinary clinic planed on how they are going to use the phone line provider services for call waiting. They assigned the task of implementing this plan to the veterinary clinic staff and service providers staff. During planing, all the staff who is going to implement the change should be present there.



This was the main step. The service provider came and updated all the details required in its software system. Staff was given training on how they are going to know when the call is received. They will also be trained on how they can forward the call to the waiting system. The staff started to receive the calls and this system was completely implemented.


Solution evaluation

Once this solution was implemented, they found that stuff was not fully trained. They had to train the staff again. After retraining the staff, the system started running smoothly and they used a nice tone during the waiting period. This reduced customer complaints. The clinic conducted a survey and found that customers were happy about the service. This is the perfect example of the power of the lean theory. If the lean practice is implemented completely, the company can become extremely efficient.


Continuous lean cycle

When the system was implemented, it was beneficial. All the clinic members conducted another meeting that if they can further improve this calling facility. They again started with the first step and tried to brainstorm. They wanted to see if any improvement could have been made. One staff suggested that they should put an audio advertisement for newly introduced veterinary clinic services as the waiting tone. This service was introduced. They found that the services which were advertised through the phone were getting the highest number of customers. This was again found in the evaluation step of the second cycle.


What are the main elements of lean leadership?

When we discuss lean management, we will also have to focus on lean leadership. Lean leadership cannot be like regular management as they have to be innovative enough to follow the complete lean improvement cycle. There are mainly four parts of lean leadership. The lean leadership should be able to commit to the self-improvement according to the lean model. They should be skilled enough to guide others about following the lean cycle. The third value of a lean leader is daily involvement in the development and implementation of the lean cycle. The fourth value of lean leadership must possess is the creation of long term and short term goals. When we take an example of lean leadership in veterinary practice, we can become specific about the elements of lean veterinary clinic leadership.


Commitment to improvement cycle

In the veterinary clinic, the perfect leader is going to be the one who is most committed to the improvement of the veterinary clinic. A good lean leader must be an example for all the other staff. A veterinarian who has the training of a lean style of management should be the leader. He should look for new ways to treat animals according to the latest practices.


Guiding Team

The second quality of a good lean leader is the ability to guide the team in lean problem-solving. He should be able to guide the team whenever they need it. He needs to ask the team to work instead of doing micromanagement. Introduction and proper management of the lean steps are really important in lean leadership. The veterinarian who has skills of guiding others like nurses and paramedical staff can be the perfect lean management style leader.


Implementation surveillance

A good lean management leader should be able to implement the solution suggested by the staff. The theory is not everything. You will have to get down and implement what you have brainstormed. Otherwise, you will not be able to reach the evaluation step. A lot of work is required to implement a calling plan so the person who is implementing it should have leadership qualities. This is important to follow each step in the lean theory. Some staff might suggest that we should directly go to the implementation step. They might also say that we should skip one step so we can speed up the process. This will be a disaster. The leader should always guide and force his stuff to completely follow the lean model so they can resolve the problem completely.


Setting lean goals

This is a really important element of lean leadership. The lean goals are not like regular company goals. When regular companies are focusing on how many sales they have to make. Lean leadership is focusing on how much they can learn from the process. A regular company will think about the numbers while the lean leadership will think about the learning process. The lean leadership will make goals of implementing multiple problem-solving cycles.

When a problem arrives, the lean leader will think about the solution and how they can repeat the cycle to implement new changes. In the case of the veterinary clinic, when a problem arises like your clinic is not getting customers, the lean leadership element suggests that you collect the data to identify the problem rather than just blaming it on luck or some unknown reason. Setting the lean style goals is far better than setting conventional company goals.


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