The more consistent your plastic surgery practice is, the more it can deliver the experience and outcomes your patients seek. To that end, an editorial in Aesthetic Surgery Journal looked at how plastic surgeons can improve consistency by applying principles from the Toyota Production System (TPS).
TPS was developed in the 1950s as a way to improve manufacturing operations, but its basic principles have been applied to other types of businesses with great success. The authors of the editorial argue that the people-centric principles from TPS can be successfully applied to plastic surgery practices. They include:
- Continuous improvement. Examine processes (surgical, patient check-in, preop prep, postop care) to look for ways to make them less complicated and more efficient. Efficiencies can come in the form of cost or time savings, reducing complications and patient recovery time, improved patient experience, enhanced technology, or reduced wait times, write the authors.
- Teamwork and a commitment to learning. Help advance staff members’ knowledge and expertise with the goal of developing exceptional people who follow your company’s philosophy.
- Decision making. Problem solve by getting information from those closest to the problem, make decisions only after thoroughly considering all options, and implement those decisions rapidly (but be open to correction as needed).
- Quality. Build a culture that stops to fix problems to get quality right the first time. Minimize bureaucratic and institutional frictions that interfere with creating an optimal experience for patients.
The authors explain that in a surgical clinic, a process can be anything from hiring staff, training staff, and developing customer service policies to strategies that improve patient outcomes. “Each step in a patient’s journey, from initial office contact to consultation, to surgery and postoperative care, can be divided into smaller segments that can be defined, studied, and refined,” write the authors, noting that several surgical publications have defined aesthetic procedures as a stepwise process that pays homage to TPS principles.
Importantly, the article notes that TPS is not a perfect fit in every way for a surgical practice and advises considering TPS principles as a roadmap for improving team communication and making operations more efficient.
“Just as base hits win ball games, incremental improvements in your practice will lead to larger operational changes, improved teamwork, and an enhanced patient [user experience],” they write. “Focusing on creating a friction-free patient experience that embraces the patient’s unique goals, while supporting them with a highly trained, efficient, and helpful staff, will continue to produce positive results.”
- Cress, Phaedra, and Thomas Fiala. “Adapting the Toyota Production System in Plastic Surgery Practices to Improve Practice Management and the User Experience.” Aesthetic Surgery Journal, July 2022. https://academic.oup.com/asj/article/42/7/830/6517365?login=false
- “Toyota Production System.” Wikipedia, accessed February 2023. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Production_System