Apply flow concepts to your unique setting

Establishing continuous flow in health care eliminates waste, streamlines processes, and improves care delivery reaction time. Learn more about how this highly-coordinated team approach can optimize the patient experience and overall efficiency at your organization.

Flow in the Ambulatory Setting

Learn to create continuous flow in your ambulatory, or outpatient, care setting. From registration to updating medical charts, your team can redefine the work of your clinic or practice group to improve quality and efficiency.

Flow in the Acute Setting

Learn to create continuous flow in your acute, or inpatient, care setting. Implement a lean method to support and improve your team’s work, from the nurses’ station to the bedside.

What is flow in health care?

In manufacturing, continuous flow occurs when a single product is built from start to finish on an assembly line that doesn’t stop. In health care today, the norm is batching, a process that involves producing products and services in groups. This process is not only inefficient but also carries the potential of errors that can be passed down to patients. With today’s lean production system, organizations can employ one-piece flow, in which each product or service is given the attention it deserves — and fewer errors result.

Working in flow balances the skill-task alignment across staff to reduce the overall time needed to perform each task, and as a result, helps to lower associated labor costs. In addition, wasteful activities that add no value, but are currently required, are identified and eliminated. The result is a more empowered team delivering higher quality care to patients, at exactly the right moment.

Video: Improving care with flow stations

Learn about the success of flow stations at Virginia Mason, where primary care physicians and medical assistants work together to improve efficiency, enhance the patient experience and eliminate the need for physicians to catch up on paperwork during evenings and weekends.

Accomplish continuous flow in health care

Moving away from batching and toward one-piece flow will result in fewer errors and better results. See how involving employees in process improvement and moving them toward one-piece flow will improve the quality, cost and delivery of care.

Optimizing flow contributes to the bottom line

Margin for a family practice group of 5 providers at Virginia Mason the year before flow was introduced


Margin for a family practice group of 5 providers at Virginia Mason two years after flow was implemented


“If people are in flow production of indirect care and reducing their costs, any group of primary care doctors can make a positive margin.”

Kim Pittenger, MD, Virginia Mason, Adult Primary Care
Transforming Health Care (CRC Press)

Apply flow concepts to your unique setting

Engage your team to perform more efficiently through the seamlessly coordinated team approach of flow.

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