Abstract for: Adapting ‘Agility’ to Healthcare Service Delivery

Agility is a fundamental characteristic of successful supply chains faced with volatile and unpredictable demand, and has been suggested as a promising new paradigm for improving healthcare delivery. Agility is an organization-wide capability that seeks to improve overall responsiveness to customer demands, synchronize supply to demand, and cope with uncertainty. However, even if many conceptual models of agility are available, extant literature fails to clearly delineate how ‘agile’ can be applied in healthcare services and to what extent healthcare systems can benefit from these approaches, nor are there comparisons to current healthcare system redesign paradigms. Given the resource constraints in most hospitals, it is useful, if not critical, to develop a good understanding of how, and to what effect, the agile paradigm can be applied in healthcare. We test specific agile operational practices in a simulated healthcare environment using system dynamics modeling, establishing the comparative effectiveness of changes to system structures that promote market sensitivity, demand information sharing, and centralized planning. This study provides healthcare managers and policy makers with concrete guidance to improve system performance through adopting agile practices, and opens a new area for service supply chain management research.