Constraints Theory

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Healthcare providers' primary focus has been on the need to simultaneously improve service management and quality. Institutions must deal with one or more limitations that prevent them from achieving their full potential. Constraints are characterized as impediments that prohibit the institution from bringing its goals and predetermined objectives into alignment (Been et al., 2002). A healthcare provider must overcome the challenges faced by its line of business in order to deliver high-quality services. The existing structure of healthcare supply has made adopting management philosophies more urgent. Not all restrictions are harmful. Actually, identification helps the management to design proper ways to address the problem and mitigate future anomalies within the organization (Marlin, 2011). It is the best opportunity that can be utilized to improve on weaknesses and capitalize on strength. One of the major constraints experienced in a healthcare providing institution is insufficient staff. Health services have been offered for quite some time without a succinct method of evaluating performance of the staff. This is whereby regular appraisals are conducted to establish the achievement in terms of patients handling. There is a direct link between the number of staff and quality of services offered.

A five step process to deal with the constraints is detailed in the following paragraph. One is identification of the problem (Been et al., 2002). The major challenge in health care provider is the staffing issue. The number of nurses and other medical practitioners is less. This is a physical problem which should be identified by the management while in the course of operation. The best way to determine whether the staff are efficient is checking the flow of services coupled with the responses from the patient. After the problem is made known, the next procedure is to determine how to exploit the challenge for the benefit of the organization (Been et al., 2002). Knowing the problem and addressing it are two different things. The problem of understaffing is experienced nearly in all hospitals. Therefore, the administration can choose to squeeze the available labor. This should be done without killing the motivation of the existing medical workers (Marlin, 2011). For example, the number of patient handled by each physician per day could be increased in order to serve a high number. Staff constraints should be exploited without jeopardizing the quality of services.

The next step is subordination of activities after establishing the problem. The main concern in our case is less staff and the channel to address this is through maximizing the available labor (Been et al., 2002). Everything should be integrated to the stated move to ensure no service comes to a halt. Important activities such as patient’s checks and consultation schedules have to be aligned with course of action taken. The steps are aimed at improving the output to acceptable levels. The fourth step is elevation of the constraints. This is the strategic action to increase the staff. Continued reliance on less staff might fail to offer standard services which calls for deliberate increase of medical practitioners. Finally, if the constraints changes after the fourth process, it is paramount to go back to the first step and start the cycle once more (Marlin, 2011).

Theory of constraints is a rigorous way to identify and address the problem in a health care facility. It has been applied in England and United State in solving pertinent issues of concern that have shaped most organizations. Its novelty in helping arrive at solutions is well known hence should be embraced in non-performing healthcare organizations.


Breen, A. M., Burton-Houle, T., & Aron, D. C. (2002). Applying the Theory of Constraints in Health Care. Quality Management in Health Care, 10(3), 40-46."

Marlin, C. (2011). World-Class Research Performance through Research Focus and the Strategic Use of Research Resources. Paths to a World-Class University, 195-203.

April 06, 2023

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Healthcare Management

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