University of Oulu

Susanna Hihnala, Lilja Kettunen, Marjo Suhonen, Hanna Tiirinki, (2018) "The Finnish healthcare services lean management: Health services managers’ experiences in a special health care unit", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 31 Issue: 1, pp.17-32,

The Finnish healthcare services lean management : health services managers’ experiences in a special health care unit

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Author: Hihnala, Susanna1; Kettunen, Lilja1; Suhonen, Marjo1;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Nursing Science and Health Management, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Emerald, 2018
Publish Date: 2018-01-03


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to discuss health services managers’ experiences of management in a special health-care unit and development efforts from the point of view of the Lean method. Additionally, the aim is to deepen the knowledge of the managers’ work and nature of the Lean method development processes in the workplace. The research focuses on those aspects and results of Lean method that are currently being used in health-care environments.

Design/methodology/approach: These data were collected through a number of thematic interviews. The participants were nurse managers (n = 7) and medical managers (n = 7) who applied Lean management in their work at the University Hospital in the Northern Ostrobothnia Health Care District. The data were analysed with a qualitative content analysis.

Findings: A common set of values in specialized health-care services, development of activities and challenges for management in the use of the Lean manager development model to improve personal management skills.

Practical implications: Managers in specialized health-care services can develop and systematically manage with the help of the Lean method. This emphasizes assumptions, from the point of view of management, about systems development when the organization uses the Lean method. The research outcomes originate from specialized health-care settings in Finland in which the Lean method and its associated management principles have been implemented and applied to the delivery of health care.

Originality/value: The study shows that the research results and in-depth knowledge on Lean method principles can be applied to health-care management and development processes. The research also describes health services managers’ experiences of using the Lean method. In the future, these results can be used to improve Lean management skills, identify personal professional competencies and develop skills required in development processes. Also, the research findings can be used in the training of health services managers in the health-care industry worldwide and to help them survive the pressure to change repeatedly.

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Series: Leadership in health services
ISSN: 1751-1879
ISSN-E: 1751-1887
ISSN-L: 1751-1879
Volume: 31
Issue: 1
Pages: 17 - 32
DOI: 10.1108/LHS-03-2017-0020
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3141 Health care science
520 Other social sciences
316 Nursing
Copyright information: © Emerald Publishing Limited 2017. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.