The adoption of Lean in the healthcare industry has been an important advancement, and not just for healthcare management. Evidence suggests that Lean can improve labour and capital efficiencies, reduce the throughput time for patients and enhance the quality of care. However, the adoption of Lean has generated large variations in results and even wider-ranging suggestions on how to implement Lean in a healthcare setting.

In this article, the author examines three very similar hospitals that implemented Lean in the emergency department during the same time. Through an examination of longitudinal data and a collection of unstructured interviews, the author found that implementation does make a substantial difference to long-term results. Although the presence of strong and persistent leadership can have favourable results on performance in the short term, these performance improvements are not sustainable. To have a long-term impact, healthcare providers need to engage all of the stakeholders in the healthcare system and create a culture that is continuously focused on the improvement of the patient healthcare experience.