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Operations Management Definition

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Operations Management Definition


In today's fast-paced ever-changing business world, organizations must deal with many diverse issues. These issues range from maintaining their competitive edge in a fierce marketplace to social, ethical and concerns regarding the health and well being of their employees. The advent of new technologies has created organizational efficiencies however; it is a well-known fact that healthcare has lagged behind other industries with regard to automation. Healthcare is being asked to provide high quality care with increased efficiency yet the patient population believes they are not receiving quality care. McCleave (1996) states that health care managers should look to manufacturing operations for ideas to improve quality and productivity in their organizations.

This paper will address the definition of operations management, its importance in healthcare and what operations management means to this author.


Operations management as defined by Stevenson (2004) is the management of particular aspects of an organization. This usually encompasses systems and workstation design, physical plant design and layout as well as processes needed to change raw material/inputs into a finished product or service. An operations manager must contend with other issues. Stevenson (2004) adds that the integral component of an operations manager is to add value to the finished product.


Considering the current state of the healthcare industry, operations management is of great importance. Henderson (1995) states the increasing demands placed on healthcare managers, the individual must excel in a variety of areas. In addition, Henderson (1995) states healthcare is in a state of transformation and the operations manger is a crucial position if the healthcare organization is to succeed. Furthermore, operations managers must be capable of seamlessly integrating a large and complex group of functions, which requires varied skills and the ability to augment the healthcare team towards quality cost-effective healthcare delivery. This means operation managers must engage in open dialogue and develop a shared vision with all members of the healthcare operation Henderson (1995). Financial acumen is of great importance in today's environment. Healthcare is a 1 trillion dollar industry and operations managers must balance many competing stakeholders not only the patient but also the board of directors, physicians, payers and regulatory bodies. The needs of these diverse groups will be the primary focus of the operations manager, Henderson (1995).

Operations managers must be capable of making difficult decisions that take into account the long-term sustainability of the organization at the expense of short-term gains. The face of healthcare delivery is changing with the dollars moving away from hospitals and more towards cost effective delivery models. This will certainly bring about turmoil as healthcare turns towards a new paradigm in delivery. Operations managers will need to keep all stakeholders informed of the imminent changes in healthcare delivery as well as creating an environment where the organization will prosper.

There are other avenues where an effective operations management can be of enormous benefit to healthcare. McCleave (1996) intimates how modern medical offices are a whirlwind of activity with physicians, nurses, front and back office personnel working at a frenzied pace yet the work never seems to finish. The first thought is to increase staff or floor space to handle the ever-growing demands placed on the organization. However, McCleave (1996) believes that the medical industry as a whole could learn a few lessons from the manufacturing industry whom as a whole has been through much the same changes in the 1980's that the medical industry is currently experiencing. One lesson learned is that asking employees to work harder is not the answer. What healthcare needs is to improve their operations through improved operational methods. This can be accomplished



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