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"Lean" claims handling

Posted On: Aug. 5, 2009 12:00 AM CST

Even Starbucks has turned to “lean” techniques to make its stores more efficient and improve profitability, according to an interesting Wall Street Journal story.

Lean refers to a process pioneered by Toyota Motor Corp. in its manufacturing of cars. It essentially calls for observing every step in a process to see how each can be eliminated or streamlined to shave off seconds at each point.

Lean applications continue to spread to more businesses and can make a difference in how claims are managed.

A recent story in Business Insurance, for example, describes how Boeing is applying lean techniques to reduce costs and improve its handling of work comp and disability claims.

Starbucks employees are using lean thinking to speed up service by eliminating motions, such as bending over to scoop up coffee from under a counter. Keeping the coffee on the counter saves seconds.

Lean processes are already in wide use at fast-food restaurants. The Wall Street Journal story raises the question of whether Starbucks will become another fast-food joint after building its business by rejecting that model.

Readers that subscribe to the Journal can access the full story here.

A question Comp Time has is whether any third party administrators or insurer claims handling units have considered implementing lean techniques?