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Improving access to health services – challenges in Lean application

Siu Yee Cheng (Logistics Research Centre, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)
David Bamford (The Business School, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)
Marina Papalexi (The Business School, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)
Benjamin Dehe (The Business School, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 2 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

Healthcare organisations face significant productivity pressures and are undergoing major service transformation. The purpose of this paper is to disseminate findings from a Lean healthcare project using a National Health Service Single Point of Access environment as the case study. It demonstrates the relevance and extent that Lean can be applied to this type of healthcare service setting.

Design/methodology/approach

Action research was applied and Lean tools used to establish current state processes, identify wastes and develop service improvement opportunities based upon defined customer values.

Findings

The quality of referral information was found to be the root cause of a number of process wastes and causes of failure for the service. Recognising the relationship and the nature of interaction with the service’s customer/supplier lead to more effective and sustainable service improvement opportunities and the co-creation of value. It was also recognised that not all the Lean principles could be applied to this type of healthcare setting.

Practical implications

The study is useful to organisations using Lean to undertake service improvement activities. The paper outlines how extending the value stream beyond the organisation to include suppliers can lead to improved co-production and generation of service value.

Originality/value

The study contributes to service productivity research by demonstrating the relevance and limitations of Lean application in a new healthcare service setting. The case study demonstrates the practical challenges of implementing Lean in reciprocal service design models and adds validity to existing contextual models.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project (ES/K000667/1).

Citation

Cheng, S.Y., Bamford, D., Papalexi, M. and Dehe, B. (2015), "Improving access to health services – challenges in Lean application", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 121-135. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPSM-05-2014-0066

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited