The hospital-wide patient flow - looking beyond borders for improved productivity

Abstract: Demand for healthcare is increasing at a faster pace than hospitals’ capacity. In search of new paths to reverse this development policy makers and healthcare managers look for new methodologies or concepts to improve productivity. One such concept is flow efficiency, focusing on how to better support the throughput of patients, and productivity. Therefore, the aims of this thesis are to examine the phenomenon of hospital-wide patient flows and what is preventing or helping the patient flow to become swift and even across the hospital organization. This thesis builds on a qualitative research design, where process theory and the theory of swift and even flows are used as points of departure when exploring the phenomenon of hospital-wide patient flows. Two papers are presented. The first paper explores barriers to swift and even patient flows and the second paper identifies solutions on how to overcome the identified barriers. This thesis visualizes how important it is to align the hospital around the patient flow for improved productivity. It also explains how hospitals can serve a greater part of their citizens and enable a more sustainable work environment by improving the capacity balance across the hospital to support the patient flow. Lastly, a new framework on how to improve hospital-wide patient flows is developed connecting barriers, root causes, and solutions to swift and even patient flows based on a systematic literature review and on experiences from senior managers at the world’s leading hospitals.

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