To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

A systematic review of Lean in healthcare: a global prospective

Jiju Antony (School of Management and Languages, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK)
Vijaya Sunder M. (Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, Chennai, India) (Business Process Excellence, The World Bank, Chennai, India)
Raja Sreedharan (Department of Industrial Engineering, Anna University, Chennai, India)
Ayon Chakraborty (Department of Operations Management and Quantitative Techniques, Indian Institute of Management Tiruchirapalli, Trichy, India)
Angappa Gunasekaran (California State University, Bakersfield, Bakersfield, California, USA)

International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management

ISSN: 0265-671X

Article publication date: 28 May 2019

Issue publication date: 30 August 2019



Fostered by a rapid spread beyond the manufacturing sector, Lean philosophy for continuous improvement has been widely used in service organizations, primarily in the healthcare sector. However, there is a limited research on the motivating factors, challenges and benefits of implementing Lean in healthcare. Taking this as a valuable opportunity, the purpose of this paper is to present the key motivating factors, limitations or challenges of Lean deployment, benefits of Lean in healthcare and key gaps in the literature as an agenda for future research.


The authors used the secondary data from the literature (peer-reviewed journal articles) published between 2000 and 2016 to understand the state of the art. The systematic review identified 101 articles across 88 journals recognized by the Association of Business Schools ranking guide 2015.


The systematic review helped the authors to identify the evolution, current trends, research gaps and an agenda for future research for Lean in healthcare. A bouquet of motivating factors, challenges/limitations and benefits of Lean in healthcare are presented.

Practical implications

The implications of this work include directions for managers and healthcare professionals in healthcare organizations to embark on a focused Lean journey aligned with the strategic objectives. This work could serve as a valuable resource to both practitioners and researchers for learning, investigating and rightly adapting the Lean in the healthcare sector.


This study is perhaps one of the comprehensive systematic literature reviews covering an important agenda of Lean in Healthcare. All the text, figures and tables featured here are original work carried by five authors in collaboration (from three countries, namely, India, the USA and the UK).



Antony, J., Sunder M., V., Sreedharan, R., Chakraborty, A. and Gunasekaran, A. (2019), "A systematic review of Lean in healthcare: a global prospective", International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, Vol. 36 No. 8, pp. 1370-1391.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited