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Center for Mindfulness

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Diagnosis | Equipment and Supplies | Health and Medical Administration | Health Services Research | Neurology


INTRODUCTION: "Lean" is a set of management principles which focus on increasing value and efficiency by reducing or avoiding waste (e.g., overproduction, defects, inventory, transportation, waiting, motion, over processing). It has been applied to manufacturing, education, and health care, leading to optimized process flow, increased efficiency and increased team empowerment. However, to date, it has not been applied to neuroimaging research.

METHODS: Lean principles, such as Value stream mapping (e.g. a tool with which steps in the workflow can be identified on which to focus improvement efforts), 5S (e.g. an organizational method to boost workplace efficiency and efficacy) and Root-cause analysis (e.g. a problem-solving approach to identify key points of failure in a system) were applied to an ongoing, large neuroimaging study that included seven research visits per participant. All team members participated in a half-day exercise in which the entire project flow was visualized and areas of inefficiency were identified. Changes focused on removing obstacles, standardization, optimal arrangement of equipment and root-cause-analysis. A process for continuous improvement was also implemented. Total time of an experiment was recorded before implementation of Lean for two participants and after implementation of Lean for two participants. Satisfaction of team members was assessed anonymously on a 5-item Likert scale, ranging from much worsened to much improved.

RESULTS: All team members (N = 6) considered the overall experience of conducting an experiment much improved after implementation of Lean. Five out of six team members indicated a much-improved reduction in time, with the final team member considering this somewhat improved. Average experiment time was reduced by 13% after implementation of Lean (from 142 and 147 minutes to 124 and 128 minutes).

DISCUSSION: Lean principles can be successfully applied to neuroimaging research. Training in Lean principles for junior research scientists is recommended.


Electroencephalography, Neuroimaging, Functional magnetic resonance imaging, Data acquisition, Internet, Scientists, Technicians, Equipment

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Copyright: This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

DOI of Published Version



PLoS One. 2018 Nov 28;13(11):e0205232. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0205232. eCollection 2018. Link to article on publisher's site

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PloS one

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons 1.0 Public Domain Dedication.