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Exploring the meaningfulness of healthcare organizations: a multiple case study

Rocco Palumbo (Department of Management and Innovation Systems, University of Salerno, Fisciano, Italy)
Carmela Annarumma (Department of Management and Innovation Systems, University of Salerno, Fisciano, Italy)
Marco Musella (Department of Management and Innovation Systems, University of Salerno, Fisciano, Italy)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 10 July 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Patient empowerment has been variously depicted as a new paradigm inspiring the patient-provider relationship. To the authors’ knowledge, scholars have focused most of their attention on patient enablement. Alternatively, the ability of health care organizations to establish a comfortable and co-creating partnership with the patients has been overlooked. In an attempt to fill this gap, the purpose of this paper is to delve into the meaningfulness of health care organizations, embracing the “organizational health literacy” perspective.

Design/methodology/approach

In line with the exploratory nature of this research, a multiple case study approach was taken. It concerned three large public hospitals operating within the Italian National Health Service. The meaningfulness of health care organizations was investigated drawing on the organizational health literacy construct.

Findings

The health care organizations were unaware of several crucial issues to improve their meaningfulness. Problematic organizational health literacy was found to prevent patient involvement and to negatively affect the quality of interaction between the patients and the health care professionals.

Practical implications

Inadequate organizational health literacy impoverishes the ability of health care organizations to empower the patients and to engage them in value co-creation. The institutional purposes of empowering the patients and involving them in the provision of care require tailored interventions intended to improve organizational meaningfulness.

Originality/value

This is one of the first attempts to examine the meaningfulness of health care organizations through the lenses of organizational health literacy. Both quality of care and health outcomes are expected to benefit from the enhancement of organizational health literacy.

Keywords

Citation

Palumbo, R., Annarumma, C. and Musella, M. (2017), "Exploring the meaningfulness of healthcare organizations: a multiple case study", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 30 No. 5, pp. 503-518. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPSM-10-2016-0174

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited