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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Hospital process orientation from an operations management perspective: development of a measurement tool and practical testing in three ophthalmic practices

Pedro D Gonçalves, Marie Louise Hagenbeek* and Jan M H Vissers

Author Affiliations

Institute of Health Policy and Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:475  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-475

Published: 13 November 2013

Abstract

Background

Although research interest in hospital process orientation (HPO) is growing, the development of a measurement tool to assess process orientation (PO) has not been very successful yet. To view a hospital as a series of processes organized around patients with a similar demand seems to be an attractive proposition, but it is hard to operationalize this idea in a measurement tool that can actually measure the level of PO. This research contributes to HPO from an operations management (OM) perspective by addressing the alignment, integration and coordination of activities within patient care processes. The objective of this study was to develop and practically test a new measurement tool for assessing the degree of PO within hospitals using existing tools.

Methods

Through a literature search we identified a number of constructs to measure PO in hospital settings. These constructs were further operationalized, using an OM perspective. Based on five dimensions of an existing questionnaire a new HPO-measurement tool was developed to measure the degree of PO within hospitals on the basis of respondents’ perception. The HPO-measurement tool was pre-tested in a non-participating hospital and discussed with experts in a focus group. The multicentre exploratory case study was conducted in the ophthalmic practices of three different types of Dutch hospitals. In total 26 employees from three disciplines participated. After filling in the questionnaire an interview was held with each participant to check the validity and the reliability of the measurement tool.

Results

The application of the HPO-measurement tool, analysis of the scores and interviews with the participants resulted in the possibility to identify differences of PO performance and the areas of improvement – from a PO point of view – within each hospital. The result of refinement of the items of the measurement tool after practical testing is a set of 41 items to assess the degree of PO from an OM perspective within hospitals.

Conclusions

The development and practically testing of a new HPO-measurement tool improves the understanding and application of PO in hospitals and the reliability of the measurement tool. The study shows that PO is a complex concept and appears still hard to objectify.

Keywords:
Health services; Process orientation; Process management; Hospital; Measurement tool; Operations management