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Operations Management Theory

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Operations Management in Health Care

Operations management is the organizing and controlling of the fundamental business activity of providing goods and services to customers (Encarta, 2005). In the healthcare industry, operations management generally focuses on providing a service of healthcare to patients. An organization has three basic functional areas, and theses are: finance, marketing, and operations (Operations Management, 2004, p.4). Since operations is one of the three basic functions of an organization it holds a strong significance in the healthcare industry. The contents of this paper will explain what operations management means to the writer, and why is operations management important to a healthcare organization.

What is Operations Management?

The specific breakdown of operations management came from reading chapter 1 of the online textbook titled Operations Management. Further explained in the book, operations services are products of the transformations of inputs to outputs. Manufacturing products differs from providing services in seven factors: degree of customer contact, uniformity of input, labor content of jobs, uniformity of output, measurement of productivity, production and delivery, quality assurance, and amount of inventory (Operations Management, 2004, p.6). Operations management includes many processes, all of them should be considered thoroughly by the manager. These processes include: forecasting, capacity planning, scheduling, managing inventory, assuring quality, and motivating and training employees (Operations Management, 2004, p.8). Operations management also includes different models, quantitative approach, the analysis of trade-offs, establishing priorities, ethics, the study of the Industrial Revolution, Scientific Management, and the Human Relations Movement, decision models and Management Science, the influence of Japanese manufacturers, and trends.

Importance in the Healthcare Industry

In the healthcare industry, services provided by the healthcare staff are converted mainly by the inputs such as: Doctors, nurses, hospitals, medical supplies, equipment and laboratories. The processing involved in the healthcare industry includes: examination, surgery, monitoring, medication, and therapy. The output of the mentioned process would of course be healthy patients (Operations Management, 2004, p.6). Healthcare workers have a higher degree of customer contacts, for the customers are our patients that we provide comprehensive care to. Services, such as providing healthcare have a variable amount of inputs for a specific case. For instance, a critical care patient may need several nurses that need to attend to all of the needs for that patients, whereas, a telemetry patient may only need one nurse to provide care for. The measurement of productivity in healthcare services is also more difficult than the manufacturing of goods. In healthcare, it is rather difficult to measure the productivity of healthcare providers because healthcare is not quantitative. Less inventory is needed on hand in providing services (Operations Management, 2004, p.6 & 7). The scope of operations management in healthcare requires several different activities performed. Forecasting in healthcare may include ordering sufficient amounts of flu vaccines half a year ahead of time to guarantee delivery during flu season. Capacity planning in healthcare may include raising the price of a particular examination to maintain profit. Scheduling may include floor managers to schedule enough nurses for a busy week, or not schedule as many nurses on days where beds are empty. Managing inventory such as first aid



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