Rambam Grand Rounds

Lean Management – the Journey from Toyota to Healthcare

Sorin T. Teich and Fady F. Faddoul


The evolution of production systems is tightly linked to the story of Toyota Motor Company (TMC) that has its roots around 1918. The term “lean” was coined in 1990 following the exploration of the Toyota model that led to the “transference” thesis sustaining the concept that manufacturing problems and technologies are universal problems faced by management and that these concepts can be emulated in non-Japanese enterprises. Lean is a multi-faceted concept and requires organizations to exert effort along several dimensions simultaneously; some consider a successful implementation either achieving major strategic components of lean, implementing practices to support operational aspects, or providing evidence that the improvements are sustainable in the long term. The article explores challenges and opportunities faced by organizations that intend incorporating lean management principles and presents the specific context of the healthcare industry. Finally, the concepts of “essential few” and customer value are illustrated through a simple example of process change following lean principles, which was implemented in a dental school in the United States.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2013;4(2):e0007