Background: Many hospitals have taken actions to make care delivery for specific patient groups more process-oriented, but struggle with the question how to deal with process orientation at hospital level. The aim of this study is to report and discuss the experiences of hospitals with implementing process-oriented organisation designs in order to derive lessons for future transitions and research.
Methods: A literature review of English language articles on organisation-wide process-oriented redesigns, published between January 1998 and May 2009, was performed.
Results: Of 329 abstracts identified, 10 articles were included in the study. These articles described process-oriented redesigns of five hospitals. Four hospitals tried to become process-oriented by the implementation of coordination measures, and one by organisational restructuring. The adoption of the coordination mechanism approach was particularly constrained by the functional structure of hospitals. Other factors that hampered the redesigns in general were the limited applicability of and unfamiliarity with process improvement techniques.
Conclusions: Due to the limitations of the evidence, it is not known which approach, implementation of coordination measures or organisational restructuring (with additional coordination measures), produces the best results in which situation. Therefore, more research is needed. For this research, the use of qualitative methods in addition to quantitative measures is recommended to contribute to a better understanding of preconditions and contingencies for an effective application of approaches to become process-oriented. Hospitals are advised to take the factors for failure described into account and to take suitable actions to counteract these obstacles on their way to become process-oriented organisations.