Health Science Journal

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The Need for Lean Thinking in the Kuwaiti Healthcare System

Hisham Kelendar, Muhammad Faisal and Mohammed A Mohammed

Healthcare systems (HCS) all over the world are facing escalating challenges as a consequence of increasing life expectancy and the growth of the ageing population. Even more, the financial constraints facing most countries are adding to the current crisis. Growing healthcare costs are directing the attention of many governments for investing to improve the efficiency of their HCS. Many developed countries have had massive investment in order to improve their service efficiency, but this is not the case in Kuwait. To address some of these challenges, several institutes and organisations have adopted manufacturing improvement methods and techniques. One noticeable improvement approach that promises to improve quality and efficiency while reducing costs is lean management. As part of a threeyear PhD research project, this article is looking through the literature to explore the feasibility and motivation factors of studying lean thinking in the Kuwaiti healthcare system. The aim is to identify the gaps and direct future research to the right path, to understand the potential for applying lean thinking in Kuwait and rationing the selected area where a pilot project intends to be conducted. This review article will critically examine the potential for lean management to be implemented in Kuwait’s HCS. Even though the first published study regarding lean implementation in healthcare is 15 years old, the research and knowledge of lean health management is at the infant stage. It found that lean has the potential yet inconsistent benefits on process outcomes like patient flow; lacks rigorous evaluation with missing of the control group; superficial input from patients; narrow technical application with limited organisational reach. The other finding was that lean was not explored in primary healthcare and there is a deficiency in projects within developing countries. The key findings from literature have driven researchers and organisations to undertake further research on the use of lean in healthcare. In light of the above, it is worthwhile exploring the case for adopting lean in Kuwait to enhance the flow of patients with diabetes in primary healthcare.