Implementing a new emergency department: a qualitative study of health professionals' change responses and perceptions

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  • Nina Thórný Stefánsdóttir
  • Per Nilsen
  • Mette Bendtz Lindstroem
  • Andersen, Ove
  • Byron J Powell
  • Tine Tjørnhøj-Thomsen
  • Jeanette Wassar Kirk

BACKGROUND: The aim of the study is two-fold. It explores how managers and key employees at the Emergency Department (ED) and specialist departments in a university hospital in the Capital Region of Denmark respond to the planned change to a new ED, and how they perceive the change involved in the implementation of the new ED. The study investigates what happens when health professionals are confronted with implementation of policy that changes their organization and everyday work lives. Few studies provide in-depth investigations of health professionals' reactions to the implementation of new EDs, and particularly how they influence the implementation of a nationwide organizational change framed within a political strategy.

METHODS: The study used semi-structured individual interviews with 51 health professionals involved in implementation activities related to an organizational change of establishing a new ED with new patient pathways for acutely ill patients. The data was deductively analyzed using Leon Coetsee's theoretical framework of change responses, but the analysis also allowed for a more inductive reading of the material.

RESULTS: Fourteen types of responses to establishing a new ED were identified and mapped onto six of the seven overall change responses in Coetsee's framework. The participants perceived the change as particularly three changes. Firstly, they wished to create the best possible acute patient pathway in relation to their specialty. Whether the planned new ED would redeem this was disputed. Secondly, participants perceived the change as relocation to a new building, which both posed potentials and worries. Thirdly, both hopeful and frustrated statements were given about the newly established medical specialty of emergency medicine (EM), which was connected to the success of the new ED.

CONCLUSIONS: The study showcases how implementation processes within health care are not straightforward and that it is not only the content of the implementation that determines the success of the implementation and its outcomes but also how these are perceived by managers and employees responsible for the process and their context. In this way, managers must recognize that it cannot be pre-determined how implementation will proceed, which necessitates fluid implementation plans and demands implementation managements skills.

TidsskriftBMC Health Services Research
StatusUdgivet - 2022

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