Operational management in patient centred healthcare

HEMA-institute of Aalto University and Forum Virium Helsinki held a joint seminar where the latest research results on operations management in healthcare were presented. The seminar sought answers for questions such as how to organize the demand and supply in healthcare.

”Healthcare services around Europe are organized regionally, not nationally. We need to find sensible options for the use of the resources, because they are not endless,” states the project manager of the MANAGED OUTCOMES project, Tomi Malmström.

Searching for best practices in healthcare in six different countries

MANAGED OUTCOMES, the collaborative research project of Aalto University, Forum Virium Helsinki and many other partners, focused on creating new tools for the decision makers for developing the future healthcare systems. The results of this three-year-long project were presented in the seminar held in Finland December 13th 2012

There were six European areas included in the study, in which operations management tools were researched to meet the challenges of the future healthcare. The project focused in four case studies, which were stroke, hip-OA, type 2 diabetes and dementia. ”A suitable framework was not available for the study, so we had to design our own methodology. It included data collection from the information systems, surveys to the patients and operational and economic modeling,” Malmström tells.

In the case of a stroke, the results revealed, that the distance to the hospital matters, but even more important is that the symptoms are noticed early and someone calls for help fast. In hip-OA, the impact of the operation was alike in all the areas, but there were differences in the waiting times. In some countries the waiting times had been shortened either with political decision or by increasing competition. Also there were major differences between the costs in different areas.

The seamless integration of different care networks is a future challenge

The care of type 2 diabetes were organized differently in different areas and the availability of the healthcare services varied. Finland and Spain had succeeded in diagnosing the disease in its early stage. The studies showed that when the type 2 diabetes is treated already in the early phases, then the care is more cost effective. Dementia proved to be the most challenging case, as the practices of recording the diagnosis varied very much in different countries. In Finland the patients are referred to the nursing homes in the early stages while in Greece the relatives take care of the patient till the last stages. Respectively in Finland and Germany the memory clinics have improved the early diagnosis of dementia. As a future challenge the research brought up the need to seamlessly integrate and coordinate the complex care networks.

There were also other presentations on operations management and patient centred healthcare in the seminar. There were presentations on how to manage the demand in the healthcare, the outcome of the surgical services and what kind of indicators are needed for patient centered care in chronic diseases.

The EU funded MANAGED OUTCOMES -project  was aimed for international, national and local decision-makers. The project studied patient groups in different countries and based on these results, created alternative models  to organize healthcare in the future. Besides Forum Virium Helsinki, the partners in this project were Aalto University, Erasmus University in Netherlands, Bamberg and Erlangen-Nurnberg Universities in Germany, Valencia University in Spain, Hope University in Belgium, XperidoX in France, National School of Public Health in Greece and Balance of Care Group in Great-Britain.

More reading