In ambulatory care facilities, Lean methodology can improve the patient experience by making sure that the movement of a patient through these buildings is as effortless as possible, takes as few footsteps as possible and gets the patient out and back home as quickly as possible. Beyond patient satisfaction, throughput is a definite advantage of Lean design in leveraging the capital investment in these facilities.

"Time is money," says Lora Schwartz, AIA, ACHA, LEED AP, principal consultant for real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group Inc., Los Angeles. "We try to maximize the throughput of every exam room that we build." When a caregiver can see 10 patients per day in a room instead of eight, due to better workflow, patient access per building footprint improves. "That's the big end game," Schwartz says.

Streamlining operations involves considering the movement of patients and family members, caregivers, information, equipment and supplies through a facility

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