Lean Management in a Medical Insurance Company

Lean Management in a Medical Insurance Company

Project Name:

Lean Deployment for Medical Insurance




  • Informed and educated workforce on Lean methods
  • Gathered improvement opportunities through workforce’s own observations 
  • Successful achievement of specific lean practices within insurance and hospital management practice

ABC is a Belgian insurance company that works closely with hospitals and health clinics. Up until 2015 it had no structured procedures for measuring performance, gathering data, or setting targets. ABC’s management recognized this while reviewing strategies for the upcoming five years. Faced with the typical challenges of increased competition new technologies, and a rapidly changing economic and political climate, they contact Zerwaste.

We recommended they embrace a lean philosophy. This would allow them to centralize and reorganize their Operations and IT processes while pursuing a renewed standard of excellence.

Through their project committee, and with our guidance, they started to embrace the concept of Hoshin Kanri, a management concept that ensures that progress is driven by the company’s strategic goals while wasteful habits that often come from inconsistent direction and poor communication are progressively eliminated. A primary hoshin was to disseminate Lean across the organization.

Training was delivered first through online courses and then through a practical exercise – getting people to think of a problem to solve. They were then required to perform gemba walks to observe lean initiatives already in place in organizations that work with ABC, such as regional hospitals, as well as to contemplate how these activities could be converted into lean tools for ABC.

Communication and marketing of the lean initiative was vital, so a good amount of effort was expended in communicating with employees by way of an internal web page, an emailed bi-weekly newsletter, and YouTube-style videos. This culminated in a day long “Lean Hoshin Festival” which allowed the employees from all the branches to observe how lean was to be implemented, and to also hear from the CEO and from some external speakers.


The promotion of a Lean approach naturally required some substantive material to back it up. The steering committee worked with Zerwaste to:

  • Develop standards: under the mantle that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure, we established metrics of performance that would be easy and unambiguous to apply.
  • Work with A3 thinking: communications and plans were submitted according to the Toyota A3 standard in two versions – one for the project manager, one for the facilitator from the Lean Office.
  • Encourage formalized and informal coaching and mentoring opportunities to cross-pollenate ideas and experience
  • Cooperate and collaborate with hospitals (ABC’s largest client sector) to segment and standardize workflow through a patient’s journey. This included establishing stock control measures to make best use of budgets, inventory space and relationships with hospitals’ suppliers.
  • Increase the flow through of claims processes per auditor from 6,450 processes per auditor per month to more than 12,000.
  • Improve turnaround time of reimbursement devolutions from 50 to 5 days.

A key success factor in the establishment of a lean methodology was in giving individuals the autonomy to solve their own problems, while consciously improving the system as they do so.

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