Lean Management and Hospital Performance: Adoption vs. Implementation

Published:February 04, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcjq.2021.01.010


      The Lean management system is being adopted and implemented by an increasing number of US hospitals. Yet few studies have considered the impact of Lean on hospitalwide performance.


      A multivariate analysis was performed of the 2017 National Survey of Lean/Transformational Performance Improvement in Hospitals and 2018 publicly available data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services on 10 quality/appropriateness of care, cost, and patient experience measures.


      Hospital adoption of Lean was associated with higher Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) patient experience scores (b = 3.35, p < 0.0001) on a scale of 100–300 but none of the other 9 performance measures. The degree of Lean implementation measured by the number of units throughout the hospital using Lean was associated with lower adjusted inpatient expense per admission (b = -38.67; p < 0.001), lower 30-day unplanned readmission rate (b = -0.01, p < 0.007), a score above the national average on appropriate use of imaging—a measure of low-value care (odds ratio = 1.04, p < 0.042), and higher HCAHPS patient experience scores (b = 0.12, p < 0.012). The degree of Lean implementation was not associated with any of the other 6 performance measures.


      Lean is an organizationwide sociotechnical performance improvement system. As such, the actual degree of implementation throughout the organization as opposed to mere adoption is, based on the present findings, more likely to be associated with positive hospital performance on at least some measures.
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