University of Oulu

Pohjosenperä, T., Kekkonen, P., Pekkarinen, S. and Juga, J. (2019), "Service modularity in managing healthcare logistics", International Journal of Logistics Management, The, Vol. 30 No. 1, pp. 174-194.

Service modularity in managing healthcare logistics

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Author: Pohjosenperä, Timo1; Kekkonen, Päivi2; Pekkarinen, Saara1;
Organizations: 1Department of Marketing, Management and International Business, Oulu Business School, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Industrial Engineering and Management, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Emerald, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-12-19


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine how modularity is used for enabling value creation in managing healthcare logistics services.

Design/methodology/approach: Material logistics of four different kinds of hospitals is examined through a qualitative case study. The theoretical framework builds on the literature on healthcare logistics, service modularity and value creation.

Findings: The case hospitals have developed their material logistics independently from others when looking at the modularity of offerings, processes and organisations. Services, such as assortment management, shelving and developing an information platform, have been performed in-house partly by the care personnel, but steps towards modularised and standardised solutions are now being taken in the case hospitals, including ideas about outsourcing some of the services.

Research limitations/implications: This paper proposes seven modularity components for healthcare logistics management: segmentation, categorisation and unitisation of offerings, differentiation and decoupling of processes, and centralisation and specialisation of organisations. Thus, this study clarifies the three-dimensional concept of modularity as a cognitive frame for managing logistics services with heterogeneous customer needs in a rapidly changing healthcare environment.

Practical implications: Modularity offers a tool for developing logistics services inside the hospital and increases possibilities to consider also external logistics service providers.

Social implications: Managing healthcare logistics services through modularity has potential social implications in developing healthcare processes and changing the usage of health services. On a wider scale, modularity is helping healthcare systems reaching their goals in terms of service quality and cost.

Originality/value: This paper shows the context-specific antecedents of service modularity and the usage of modular thinking in managing healthcare logistics.

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Series: International journal of logistics management
ISSN: 0957-4093
ISSN-E: 1758-6550
ISSN-L: 0957-4093
Volume: 30
Issue: 1
Pages: 174 - 194
DOI: 10.1108/IJLM-12-2017-0338
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 222 Other engineering and technologies
512 Business and management
Funding: The authors acknowledge the “Innovations in Social and Healthcare Services” programme of Tekes (now Business Finland) and other public and private organisations for funding this research.
Copyright information: © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited. The final authenticated version is available online at: