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Are you effectively using the space you have?

March 20, 2012
by Gayle Anthony, EDAC, LEED AP
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Implementing lean practices and evidence-based design can help you streamline workflow, cut costs and improve outcomes

What if your behavioral health organization could provide a more therapeutic, healing environment for patients and reduce medical errors by streamlining staff workflow? And, what if your organization could improve patient outcomes in a safer environment and reduce operating costs by standardizing the supply chain?

These are just two examples of how it’s possible for behavioral health organizations to enhance their financial and clinical operations. How? By implementing two emerging healthcare concepts, “lean” design and evidence-based design (EBD) and applying them in synergy to reach your specific organizational goals and objectives.

Integration of lean workflow strategies in tandem with EBD environmental concepts has the potential to decrease operating costs and improve the delivery of care. Eliminating process waste and improving the flow of data, supplies and equipment enables facilities to capture underutilized resources and avoid redundancies of space, personnel and supplies.

Understanding lean and EBD

In today’s economy, two trends are increasingly finding their way into the forefront of behavioral healthcare facility design: “lean” design and EBD. Thus far these two concepts have been implemented separately into healthcare settings as a means to significantly improve care delivery and positively impact the “bottom line” from a financial standpoint.

What do these two concepts have in common in the design of behavioral healthcare facilities? Plenty, it seems, as both trends share the same goal of achieving optimal results and efficiencies in the delivery of behavioral health services.

Table: Click on the chart to see how how lean performance improvements can directly impact space planning innovations.

Often associated with the Toyota Motor Company in the 1950s, lean processes are designed to improve production, quality and efficiency by reducing or eliminating several different forms of waste in the workflow process. To gain a competitive edge in automobile production, Toyota implemented lean by strategically placing standardized components and parts to reduce travel time and streamline inventory.

Evidence-based design, as defined in 2008 by the Center for Health Design, is “the process of basing decisions about the built environment on credible research to achieve the best possible outcomes.” In other words, by incorporating the best practices in facility planning, positive health outcomes in a healing, therapeutic environment can be achieved.

Research has even shown that simply providing access to daylight and views to the outside can significantly reduce patient depression, pain and anxiety, while also improving staff satisfaction.


The impetus for both concepts is to achieve or improve positive outcomes, either for financial gain or the enhancement of patient care—ideally, it’s both. While lean is a process of doing more with less (saving money and resources by increasing efficiencies and eliminating waste), EBD is more focused on improving outcomes (by applying specific interventions to the built environment).



Gayle Anthony

Gayle Anthony

Gayle Anthony, EDAC, LEED AP is a facility planning consultant with nearly 20 years of...

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