Understanding in Healthcare Organisations- a prerequisite for development

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: This study proposes that poor understanding of the structures, processes and outcomes of organisations seriously hampers collaboration between professional groups in care organisations. Three care settings were investigated: follow-up of patients with heart disease, an intensive care unit and care services for older people.The overall aim was to investigate how people understand structures, processes and outcomes in care organisations. The participants were patients, patient representatives, healthcare professionals, managers and politicians.A qualitative approach was used. Thematic analysis and grounded theory were employed in analysing the data.Despite considerable efforts, no major changes took place over a 7-year period as to how cardiac follow-up services were understood. The system of cardiac follow-up services was found fragmented in its organisation and in the way individuals understood it. The results indicate that care professionals, patients and leaders have dissimilar understandings. The data suggest that care is organised from a professional-centred perspective rather than from a holistic worldview of the patients’ total context. Leaders in intensive care perceive their organisation as a learning organisation. However, in daily work healthcare tends to function to what can be described as a mass production approach to care. This state of conflict caused confusion and chaos among the leaders. The municipal elderly care services and the county council’s geriatric organisation had difficulties in co-ordination. Older people were perceived as passive recipients of healthcare, rather than as consumers whose well being and outcome were a reflection to the quality of the service.The study concludes that despite the major changes that have taken place in the Swedish health and elderly care organisations over the past years, healthcare professionals’ understanding of their work has gone largely unchanged. Their understanding of care structures and processes did not change despite outside pressures. Lack of understanding of what others understand hampers development with the result that care organisations risk stagnation.