• Illusion or delusion - Lean management in the health sector

      McIntosh, Bryan; Cohen, I.K.; Sheppy, B. (2014)
      Purpose: There has been considerable interest in implementing practices imported from manufacturing into healthcare as a solution to rising healthcare spending and disappointing patient safety indicators. One approach attracting particular interest is Lean management, which is explored in this article. Design/methodology/approach: The exploratory research focuses on Lean management in the health sector. It is based on extensive secondary data and it is a practical in implication. Data provided both background and context. Findings: Despite widespread enthusiasm about Lean management’s potential, evidence about its contribution to higher performance is inconsistent. Research limitations/implications: Major Lean operations management and human resource management concepts, including just-in-time (JIT), total quality management (TQM) and total productive maintenance (TPM) are explored. Practical implications: This article contributes to the healthcare organizational management literature by showing that although Lean management seems to have the potential to improve organizational performance; it is far from a panacea for underperforming hospitals. The article informs policy-making by suggesting that a progressive managerial philosophy has a stronger impact on healthcare performance than adopting practices from any particular managerial approach. Originality/value: A critical evaluation on Lean’s impact on informing healthcare policy is presented, which contributes to healthcare organisational management literature by showing that even though Lean management in healthcare appears to have the potential to improve performance; there remain problems with its application.