What are barriers and facilitators in sustaining lean management in healthcare? A qualitative literature review

Yannick Kunnen, Oskar Roemeling*, Edin Smailhodzic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background
Lean management (LM) is a continuous improvement methodology originating from manufacturing and is widely adopted in healthcare to improve processes. LM shows promising results in healthcare and research on the topic is increasing. However, it can be difficult to sustain LM over time, and an overview of facilitators or barriers that influence the sustainment of LM in a healthcare context is unavailable.

Methods
Prior to search, five inclusion and exclusion criteria were defined to establish suitability of identified articles for our research question. This study was based on 24 selected peer-reviewed studies that reported on the sustainment of LM in healthcare organisations, published in the last five years. Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systemtic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, all articles were scanned, retrieved for full-text and analysed thematically.

Results
Following thematic analysis, we identified four overarching themes: Mobilising Employees, Guiding Change Efforts, Methods, and Local Context. Key facilitators for supporting LM are fostering an improvement culture and learning culture, providing professional development opportunities, assigning more responsibilities to employees in decision making processes and appointing change agents to act as local LM leaders. Key barriers for sustaining LM include overburdening employees with responsibilities, omitting staff involvement during LM implementation, lack of patient engagement, lack of resources to engage with LM, a lack of leadership commitment and follow-up on projects, and a lack of knowledge of LM among leaders.

Conclusion
Overall, studies emphasise the importance of actively involving and engaging the workforce to embed LM into organisational culture. Reflecting on the origins of LM, healthcare organisations can find inspiration in the virtue of respecting people in their journey to sustain and cultivate an improvement culture. LM provides potential to change healthcare for the better and could help healthcare organisations to cope with increasing external pressures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number958
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Volume23
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6-Sept-2023

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