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Developing a practical methodology to improve the health-care services: studying a neonatal intensive care unit case in Oman

Nasr Al-Hinai (Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, College of Engineering, Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman)
Ahm Shamsuzzoha (Industrial Systems Analytics, School of Technology and Innovations, University of Vaasa, Vaasa, Finland)

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management

ISSN: 0265-671X

Article publication date: 27 November 2020

Issue publication date: 12 May 2021




This study aims to develop a practical methodology to identify possible areas of improvements as well as exploring how to improve the health-care staff flow within a selected department in a hospital.


It focuses on showing how to properly study and analyze the health-care services and processes practiced at a selected department within a hospital. For this, several techniques like non-value-adding activities, time motion study, spaghetti diagram, layout analysis, etc. are used.


To test the proposed methodology, a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of a hospital in Oman was considered as a case study. The study revealed that this unit has several potential improvements capabilities. Further, this study also discussed possible areas of improvements of this case unit and suggested how such improvements can be implemented.


Several possible improvements are suggested and are discussed with the hospital authority, which can be clarified as the re-layout of the NICU rooms, reorganization of the store to improve the staff flow, increase the work efficiency, introduction of Help Us Support Healing policy, etc., which can enhance the entire operational system at the studied NICU.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the efforts and supports of Dr. Khalid Al-Riyami, Ms. Wisam Al-Mahrouqi, Ms. Ibtihaj Al-Balushi and Ms. Taghreed Al-Wahaibi when performing this study. The first author would like to acknowledge the financial support he received from Sultan Qaboos University during his sabbatical leave when this study was conducted. Moreover, his work has been partially carried out during his sabbatical research visit to the University of Nottingham (UK). The author would like to thank Dr. Ender Özcan and the University of Nottingham for such an opportunity.


Al-Hinai, N. and Shamsuzzoha, A. (2021), "Developing a practical methodology to improve the health-care services: studying a neonatal intensive care unit case in Oman", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 38 No. 6, pp. 1425-1442.



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