Illusion or delusion – Lean management in the health sector

Bryan McIntosh (Faculty of Health, Life and Social Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK)
Bruce Sheppy (BPP University, London, UK)
Ivan Cohen (School of Business and Economics, Richmond University, Richmond-upon-Thames, UK)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Publication date: 8 July 2014

Abstract

Purpose

There has been considerable interest in the implementation of practices imported from manufacturing into healthcare as a solution to rising healthcare spending and disappointing patient safety indicators. One approach that has attracted particular interest is Lean management and the purpose of this paper is to engage with this topic.

Design/methodology/approach

Secondary research.

Findings

Despite widespread enthusiasm about the potential of Lean management processes, evidence about its contribution to higher organisational performance remains inconsistent.

Research limitations/implications

This paper engages with the major Lean concepts of operations management and human resource management, including just-in-time, total quality management, total productive maintenance and does not engage in-depth with concepts related to employee empowerment, and training.

Practical implications

This paper contributes to the organisational management literature in healthcare by showing that although Lean management seems to have the potential to improve organisational performance it is far from a panacea against under performing hospitals.

Social implications

It informs policy making by suggesting that a progressive managerial philosophy has a stronger impact on healthcare performance than the adoption of practices from any particular managerial approach.

Originality/value

This paper provides a critical evaluation of the impact of Lean practices in informing healthcare policy. The paper contributes to the organisational management literature in healthcare by showing that even though Lean management in healthcare appears to have the potential to improve organisational performance; there remain problems with its application.

Keywords

Citation

McIntosh, B., Sheppy, B. and Cohen, I. (2014), "Illusion or delusion – Lean management in the health sector", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 27 No. 6, pp. 482-492. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJHCQA-03-2013-0028

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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