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Reorganising hospitals to implement a patient-centered model of care: Effects on clinical practice and professional relationships in the Italian NHS

Elisa Giulia Liberati (Department of Psychology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano, Milan, Italy)
Mara Gorli (Department of Psychology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano, Milan, Italy)
Giuseppe Scaratti (Department of Psychology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano, Milan, Italy)

Journal of Health Organization and Management

ISSN: 1477-7266

Article publication date: 16 November 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to understand how the introduction of a patient-centered model (PCM) in Italian hospitals affects the pre-existent configuration of clinical work and interacts with established intra/inter-professional relationships.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative multi-phase study based on three main sources: health policy analysis, an exploratory interview study with senior managers of eight Italian hospitals implementing the PCM, and an in-depth case study that involved managerial and clinical staff of one Italian hospital implementing the PCM.

Findings

The introduction of the PCM challenges clinical work and professional relationships, but such challenges are interpreted differently by the organisational actors involved, thus giving rise to two different “narratives of change”. The “political narrative” (the views conveyed by formal policies and senior managers) focuses on the power shifts and conflict between nurses and doctors, while the “workplace narrative” (the experiences of frontline clinicians) emphasises the problems linked to the disruption of previous discipline-based inter-professional groups.

Practical implications

Medical disciplines, rather than professional groupings, are the main source of identification of doctors and nurses, and represent a crucial aspect of clinicians’ professional identity. Although the need for collaboration among medical disciplines is acknowledged, creating multi-disciplinary groups in practice requires the sustaining of new aggregators and binding forces.

Originality/value

This study suggests further acknowledgment of the inherent complexity of the political and workplace narratives of change rather than interpreting them as the signal of irreconcilable perspectives between managers and clinicians. By addressing the specific issues regarding which the political and workplace narratives clash, relationship of trust may be developed through which problems can be identified, mutually acknowledged, articulated, and solved.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the managers and clinicians who participated in the study for their generous contributions. Special thanks also to Trevor Sheldon for his helpful comments on earlier drafts of the paper, and to the anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful and constructive feedback.

Citation

Liberati, E.G., Gorli, M. and Scaratti, G. (2015), "Reorganising hospitals to implement a patient-centered model of care: Effects on clinical practice and professional relationships in the Italian NHS", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 29 No. 7, pp. 848-873. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHOM-07-2014-0129

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited