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Implementing Lean in hospital organizations

Implications for nursing staff performance, commitment, working conditions and health, as well as health care quality and efficiency.


In the last decades there has been a major focus on increasing the efficiency and quality in Swedish health care. As part of the activity development, an increasing number of Swedish hospitals have during the recent years started to work with the management model Lean. There are still few scientific studies on how process development following Lean affects working conditions, health and work performance for hospital staff. The previous studies have shown that different approaches during the introduction of Lean can influence the outcome for both staff and patients (Holden et al, 2011). What seems to be important for the differences in outcome is differences in the local context (i.e. the specific characteristics of different hospitals or departments) and differences in the implementation in the organization (what, how and why things are done). There are no well-designed studies of how different approaches when introducing Lean influence the working conditions for the hospital staff and how they affects the quality and efficiency of the care on a long-term basis.

Purpose: To identify how different ways to implement Lean in various hospitals and departments affect hospital staff:

1. How working conditions, health, commitment and performance change in the short and long term
2. How consequences for employees depend on
                      (a) characteristics of the department or hospital (the local context)

                      (b) characteristics of how Lean is implemented (implementation context)

Research group

Together the research group has long and extensive experience of studying Lean and improvements, work environment, health, healthcare management and organization at Swedish workplaces and hospitals. One of our scientists also holds experience of working with Lean at hospitals in the United States. The project collaborates with Högskolan i Borås, Institutionen för Vårdvetenskap and Ingenjörshögskolan.

Lotta Dellve, professor, KTH and Borås högskola

Jörgen Eklund, professor, KTH and HELIX, Linköping University

Richard Holden, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Andrea Eriksson, post doc, behavioural science KTH

Anna Williamsson, research assistant, Ergonomics KTH

Jörgen Andreasson, Head of Operations, Alingsås Hospital

Contact details

Project lead Lotta Dellve, professor KTH

Mobile: +46 (0) 734 606895

Mobile: +46 (0) 736 601 674

Email: Lotta Dellve

Post doc Andrea Eriksson

Mobile: +46 (0) 76-255 9423

Email: Andrea Eriksson