Academic journal article Management Review : An International Journal

Applying Platforming Concept in Healthcare Services Development: Comparison, Issues, and Future Research

Academic journal article Management Review : An International Journal

Applying Platforming Concept in Healthcare Services Development: Comparison, Issues, and Future Research

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The healthcare industry plays a critical role in ensuring a country's continuous development as its function is to provide the healthcare needs to communities and individuals and impacts the life of every person. Moreover, as one of the largest and fast-growing industries, the healthcare industry, together with several other service industries (e.g., transportation, financial services, and data processing), accounts for more than half of all projected job growth over the coming decade (Meyer & DeTore, 2001). However, the healthcare providers in general, hospitals in particular, are facing several intense pressures. Most governments in developed economies are cutting down the public healthcare spending (Dutta & Heda, 2000; Warring & Bishop, 2010); the healthcare costs are rising as a result of, e.g., the advancement in medical technologies, the change of healthcare cost structures (Lim & Tang, 2000); the incidents, such as deaths and injuries in hospitals, and other healthcare service quality problems are often reported (Joosten et al., 2009). All of these pressures force hospitals to develop (or redesign) the healthcare services such that the expected healthcare can be delivered with the available resources.

In view of the above need to develop quality healthcare services, in recent years scholars start to pay attention to service development and delivery in hospitals. More specifically, they investigate the application of several well-known design and management techniques and methodologies, which have been used in effectively developing products in the manufacturing industry, in hospitals. These techniques and methodologies include quality function deployment (Dijkstra and van der Bij, 2002), total quality management (Lim & Tang, 2000), and lean thinking (Holden, 2011; Kim et al., 2006; Radnor et al., 2012; Womack & Jones, 2003). Some application cases have been reported to show the improved healthcare services based on the adaption of these techniques and methodologies (Spear, 2005). While the healthcare industry lags behind the manufacturing industry in the adaption of these techniques and methodologies (Walley, 2003), the available studies demonstrate that if implemented carefully, they can contribute to the improved patient care and efficient resource utilization.

In the recent two decades, customers in the manufacturing industry increasingly impose diverse individualized requirements on the products that they want. As a result, instead of developing products "one at a time", firms strive to timely develop a family of customized products at affordable costs, in hopes of surviving (Meyer et al., 1997). A concept of platforming (i.e., developing product platforms) has been recognized as an effective means to develop product families while utilizing the existing manufacturing resources and competences (Meyer & Lehnerd, 1997; Zhang, 2015). In practice, many product platforms and the corresponding product families have been developed (Simpson, 2004). The benefits for developing product platforms have been frequently reported, including the improved customer satisfaction, the reduced product development time and cost, the reuse of product development knowledge, to name but a few.

While the platforming concept has been well applied in the manufacturing industry, especially make-to-order (MTO) firms, its application in the service industry is limited. To my best knowledge, there are three articles introducing the application of platforming concept in the service industry. In one study, Menor et al. (2002) discuss the critical substantive and research design issues pertaining to service development (e.g., new service definition and unit of analysis specification) and point out the need to develop service platforms for service development. In the other two studies, the authors explicitly address the development of service families based on service platforms in the banking industry (Moon et al. …

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