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1.  Measuring Professionalism in Medicine and Nursing: Results of a European Survey 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97069.
Leveraging professionalism has been put forward as a strategy to drive improvement of patient care. We investigate professionalism as a factor influencing the uptake of quality improvement activities by physicians and nurses working in European hospitals.
To (i) investigate the reliability and validity of data yielded by using the self-developed professionalism measurement tool for physicians and nurses, (ii) describe their levels of professionalism displayed, and (iii) quantify the extent to which professional attitudes would predict professional behaviors.
Methods and Materials
We designed and deployed survey instruments amongst 5920 physicians and nurses working in European hospitals. This was conducted under the cross-sectional multilevel study “Deepening Our Understanding of Quality Improvement in Europe” (DUQuE). We used psychometric and generalized linear mixed modelling techniques to address the aforementioned objectives.
In all, 2067 (response rate 69.8%) physicians and 2805 nurses (94.8%) representing 74 hospitals in 7 European countries participated. The professionalism instrument revealed five subscales of professional attitude and one scale for professional behaviour with moderate to high internal consistency and reliability. Physicians and nurses display equally high professional attitude sum scores (11.8 and 11.9 respectively out of 16) but seem to have different perceptions towards separate professionalism aspects. Lastly, professionals displaying higher levels of professional attitudes were more involved in quality improvement actions (physicians: b = 0.019, P<0.0001; nurses: b = 0.016, P<0.0001) and more inclined to report colleagues’ underperformance (physicians – odds ratio (OR) 1.12, 95% CI 1.01–1.24; nurses – OR 1.11, 95% CI 1.01–1.23) or medical errors (physicians – OR 1.14, 95% CI 1.01–1.23; nurses – OR 1.43, 95% CI 1.22–1.67). Involvement in QI actions was found to increase the odds of reporting incompetence or medical errors.
A tool that reliably and validly measures European physicians’ and nurses’ commitment to professionalism is now available. Collectively leveraging professionalism as a quality improvement strategy may be beneficial to patient care quality.
PMCID: PMC4029578  PMID: 24849320
2.  Measuring clinical management by physicians and nurses in European hospitals: development and validation of two scales 
Clinical management is hypothesized to be critical for hospital management and hospital performance. The aims of this study were to develop and validate professional involvement scales for measuring the level of clinical management by physicians and nurses in European hospitals.
Testing of validity and reliability of scales derived from a questionnaire of 21 items was developed on the basis of a previous study and expert opinion and administered in a cross-sectional seven-country research project ‘Deepening our Understanding of Quality improvement in Europe’ (DUQuE).
Setting and Participants
A sample of 3386 leading physicians and nurses working in 188 hospitals located in Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Turkey.
Main Outcome Measures
Validity and reliability of professional involvement scales and subscales.
Psychometric analysis yielded four subscales for leading physicians: (i) Administration and budgeting, (ii) Managing medical practice, (iii) Strategic management and (iv) Managing nursing practice. Only the first three factors applied well to the nurses. Cronbach's alpha for internal consistency ranged from 0.74 to 0.86 for the physicians, and from 0.61 to 0.81 for the nurses. Except for the 0.74 correlation between ‘Administration and budgeting’ and ‘Managing medical practice’ among physicians, all inter-scale correlations were <0.70 (range 0.43–0.61). Under testing for construct validity, the subscales were positively correlated with ‘formal management roles’ of physicians and nurses.
The professional involvement scales appear to yield reliable and valid data in European hospital settings, but the scale ‘Managing medical practice’ for nurses needs further exploration. The measurement instrument can be used for international research on clinical management.
PMCID: PMC4001689  PMID: 24615595
clinical management; professional involvement; quality systems; hospital management
3.  Why a successful task substitution in glaucoma care could not be transferred from a hospital setting to a primary care setting: a qualitative study 
Healthcare systems are challenged by a demand that exceeds available resources. One policy to meet this challenge is task substitution-transferring tasks to other professions and settings. Our study aimed to explore stakeholders’ perceived feasibility of transferring hospital-based monitoring of stable glaucoma patients to primary care optometrists.
A case study was undertaken in the Rotterdam Eye Hospital (REH) using semi-structured interviews and document reviews. They were inductively analysed using three implementation related theoretical perspectives: sociological theories on professionalism, management theories, and applied political analysis.
Currently it is not feasible to use primary care optometrists as substitutes for optometrists and ophthalmic technicians working in a hospital-based glaucoma follow-up unit (GFU). Respondents’ narratives revealed that: the glaucoma specialists’ sense of urgency for task substitution outside the hospital diminished after establishing a GFU that satisfied their professionalization needs; the return on investments were unclear; and reluctant key stakeholders with strong power positions blocked implementation. The window of opportunity that existed for task substitution in person and setting in 1999 closed with the institutionalization of the GFU.
Transferring the monitoring of stable glaucoma patients to primary care optometrists in Rotterdam did not seem feasible. The main reasons were the lack of agreement on professional boundaries and work domains, the institutionalization of the GFU in the REH, and the absence of an appropriate reimbursement system. Policy makers considering substituting tasks to other professionals should carefully think about the implementation process, especially in a two-step implementation process (substitution in person and in setting) such as this case. Involving the substituting professionals early on to ensure all stakeholders see the change as a normal step in the professionalization of the substituting professionals is essential, as is implementing the task substitution within the window of opportunity.
PMCID: PMC3576268  PMID: 23351180
Diffusion of innovation; Access to health care; Quality of health care
4.  Two innovative solutions for fragmented care to multi-problem patients in deprived neighbourhoods: 2 case studies 
In Western countries there is a growing awareness that the way in which health professionals work needs to be more responsive to patients’ and population health needs and problems [1] integrated care is seen as the way forward [2–4]. In the Netherlands low patient satisfaction and participation of multi-problem patients and high health care costs in two deprived neighbourhoods, initiated partnerships between one health insurer and two local authorities. Both partnerships led to cooperation between care, preventive services and social services (Amsterdam Noord and Utrecht Overvecht).
Little empirical research has been done regarding the ways in which collaboration of health and social services develops. There are some studies within which authors reflect on aspirations analogue to what the partnerships aspire to. From these insights we form a theoretical framework including ideas on generalist approach [1, 5–7] population health orientation [8–10], and on supporting self-management [11–13].
In two case studies we built a conceptual model in order to conceptualise this cooperation process in both neighbourhoods and explored the different structures both partnerships led to.
In a collaborative research we constructed conceptual models and explored the realized structures. Data were drawn from literature review and exploration of the developmental process in both partnerships using qualitative methods (i.e. semi-structured interviews, focus group-interviews, document review, and observations).
Results and conclusions
With the conceptual models we clarify the different paths taken in the two neighbourhoods, which resulted in two different solutions to fragmented care. We describe both structures the partnerships led to.
PMCID: PMC3617769
generalist approach; population health thinking; systems thinking; deprived neighbourhoods; multi-problem patients
5.  The role and position of passive intervertebral motion assessment within clinical reasoning and decision-making in manual physical therapy: a qualitative interview study 
Passive intervertebral motion (PIVM) assessment is a characterizing skill of manual physical therapists (MPTs) and is important for judgments about impairments in spinal joint function. It is unknown as to why and how MPTs use this mobility testing of spinal motion segments within their clinical reasoning and decision-making. This qualitative study aimed to explore and understand the role and position of PIVM assessment within the manual diagnostic process. Eight semistructured individual interviews with expert MPTs and three subsequent group interviews using manual physical therapy consultation platforms were conducted. Line-by-line coding was performed on the transcribed data, and final main themes were identified from subcategories. Three researchers were involved in the analysis process. Four themes emerged from the data: contextuality, consistency, impairment orientedness, and subjectivity. These themes were interrelated and linked to concepts of professionalism and clinical reasoning. MPTs used PIVM assessment within a multidimensional, biopsychosocial framework incorporating clinical data relating to mechanical dysfunction as well as to personal factors while applying various clinical reasoning strategies. Interpretation of PIVM assessment and subsequent decisions on manipulative treatment were strongly rooted within practitioners’ practical knowledge. This study has identified the specific role and position of PIVM assessment as related to other clinical findings within clinical reasoning and decision-making in manual physical therapy in The Netherlands. We recommend future research in manual diagnostics to account for the multivariable character of physical examination of the spine.
PMCID: PMC3101068  PMID: 21655394
Clinical reasoning; Diagnostic process; Manual physical therapy; Spinal disorders
6.  Cost-effectiveness of monitoring glaucoma patients in shared care: an economic evaluation alongside a randomized controlled trial 
Population aging increases the number of glaucoma patients which leads to higher workloads of glaucoma specialists. If stable glaucoma patients were monitored by optometrists and ophthalmic technicians in a glaucoma follow-up unit (GFU) rather than by glaucoma specialists, the specialists' workload and waiting lists might be reduced.
We compared costs and quality of care at the GFU with those of usual care by glaucoma specialists in the Rotterdam Eye Hospital (REH) in a 30-month randomized clinical trial. Because quality of care turned out to be similar, we focus here on the costs.
Stable glaucoma patients were randomized between the GFU and the glaucoma specialist group. Costs per patient year were calculated from four perspectives: those of patients, the Rotterdam Eye Hospital (REH), Dutch healthcare system, and society. The outcome measures were: compliance to the protocol; patient satisfaction; stability according to the practitioner; mean difference in IOP; results of the examinations; and number of treatment changes.
Baseline characteristics (such as age, intraocular pressure and target pressure) were comparable between the GFU group (n = 410) and the glaucoma specialist group (n = 405).
Despite a higher number of visits per year, mean hospital costs per patient year were lower in the GFU group (€139 vs. €161). Patients' time and travel costs were similar. Healthcare costs were significantly lower for the GFU group (€230 vs. €251), as were societal costs (€310 vs. €339) (p < 0.01). Bootstrap-, sensitivity- and scenario-analyses showed that the costs were robust when varying hospital policy and the duration of visits and tests.
We conclude that this GFU is cost-effective and deserves to be considered for implementation in other hospitals.
PMCID: PMC3006381  PMID: 21083880
7.  Transforming medical professionalism to fit changing health needs 
BMC Medicine  2009;7:64.
The professional organization of medical work no longer reflects the changing health needs caused by the growing number of complex and chronically ill patients. Key stakeholders enforce coordination and remove power from the medical professions in order allow for these changes. However, it may also be necessary to initiate basic changes to way in which the medical professionals work in order to adapt to the changing health needs.
Medical leaders, supported by health policy makers, can consciously activate the self-regulatory capacity of medical professionalism in order to transform the medical profession and the related professional processes of care so that it can adapt to the changing health needs. In doing so, they would open up additional routes to the improvement of the health services system and to health improvement. This involves three consecutive steps: (1) defining and categorizing the health needs of the population; (2) reorganizing the specialty domains around the needs of population groups; (3) reorganizing the specialty domains by eliminating work that could be done by less educated personnel or by the patients themselves. We suggest seven strategies that are required in order to achieve this transformation.
Changing medical professionalism to fit the changing health needs will not be easy. It will need strong leadership. But, if the medical world does not embark on this endeavour, good doctoring will become merely a bureaucratic and/or marketing exercise that obscures the ultimate goal of medicine which is to optimize the health of both individuals and the entire population.
PMCID: PMC2773806  PMID: 19857246
9.  Collaborating while competing? The sustainability of community-based integrated care initiatives through a health partnership 
To improve health-care delivery, care providers must base their services on community health needs and create a seamless continuum of care in which these needs can be met. Though, it is not obvious that providers apply this vision. Experiments with regulated competition in the health systems of many industrialized countries trigger providers to optimize individual organizational goals rather than improve population health from a community perspective. Thus, a tension exists between the need to collaborate and the need to compete. Despite or because of this tension, community health partnerships are being promoted, and this should enforce a needs-based and integrated care delivery.
In this single case study, we retrospectively explored how local health-care providers in Amsterdam collaborated for more than 30 years, interacting with the changes to the national health-care system. In-depth analysis of interviews, documents and literature focused on the complex relationship between the activities of this health partnership, its nature and its changing context.
The findings revealed that the partnership itself was successful and sustainable over time, although the partnership lost its initial broad explorative nature and narrowed its strategic focus towards care of the elderly. Furthermore, the realized projects – although they enforced integrated care – lost their community-based character. This declining scope of community-based integrated care seems to have been influenced by the incremental introduction of regulated competition in Dutch health care. This casts doubts on the ability of health partnerships to apply a vision of community-based integrated care within the context of competition.
Collaborating health-care providers can build seamless continuums of care in a competitive environment, although these will not automatically maximize community health with limited resources. Active policies with regard to health system design, incentive structures and population-based performance measures are warranted in order to insure that community-based integrated care through health partnerships will be more than just policy rhetoric.
PMCID: PMC1464130  PMID: 16549028
10.  Linking up with the community: a fertile strategy for a university hospital? 
To systematically identify, describe and characterise the collaborative initiatives, which have been established between the Academic Medical Centre/University of Amsterdam and local health care providers in the adjacent community.
The viability of university hospitals is jeopardised. Their narrowed orientation on delivering the most advanced services to the sickest patients challenges their missions in patient care, science and education. By linking up with local health care providers, university hospitals create synergistic relationships that should secure these three academic missions for the future.
We conducted a multiple case study in two stages. Initially, division leaders and the director of integrated care were consulted to identify all existing collaborative initiatives of the Academic Medical Centre. Successively, face-to-face interviews were held with the leaders of these initiatives. During these interviews data were primarily collected through a questionnaire. Notes of the interviewer, and documents (if available) were also collected. The analysis focused on systematically describing and characterising the initiatives using the concept of ‘community-based integrated care’.
Twenty-seven heterogeneous initiatives were identified. Half of these initiatives are targeted to the adjacent community of the Academic Medical Centre, but only four of them are initiated on the basis of community information and involve the community and/or patients. Furthermore, the extent of integration differed per dimension. Functional integration within the initiatives has been relatively low, clinical integration mixed, and professional integration quite advanced.
The results indicate that a considerable number of collaborative initiatives have emerged. Still, these initiatives are loosely ‘community-based’ and hardly focus on the full integration of care services. This suggests that the community linkages of the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam could be further developed by gaining the full support of all clinical departments for the strategic approach and by adapting an overall hospital perspective to monitor the progress towards community-based integrated care.
PMCID: PMC1480373  PMID: 16896383
academic medicine; university hospitals; integrated care; community health planning
11.  Intermediate care: for better or worse? Process evaluation of an intermediate care model between a university hospital and a residential home 
Intermediate care was developed in order to bridge acute, primary and social care, primarily for elderly persons with complex care needs. Such bridging initiatives are intended to reduce hospital stays and improve continuity of care. Although many models assume positive effects, it is often ambiguous what the benefits are and whether they can be transferred to other settings. This is due to the heterogeneity of intermediate care models and the variety of collaborating partners that set up such models. Quantitative evaluation captures only a limited series of generic structure, process and outcome parameters. More detailed information is needed to assess the dynamics of intermediate care delivery, and to find ways to improve the quality of care. Against this background, the functioning of a low intensity early discharge model of intermediate care set up in a residential home for patients released from an Amsterdam university hospital has been evaluated. The aim of this study was to produce knowledge for management to improve quality of care, and to provide more generalisable insights into the accumulated impact of such a model.
A process evaluation was carried out using quantitative and qualitative methods. Registration forms and patient questionnaires were used to quantify the patient population in the model. Statistical analysis encompassed T-tests and chi-squared test to assess significance. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 21 staff members representing all disciplines working with the model. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using both 'open' and 'framework' approaches.
Despite high expectations, there were significant problems. A heterogeneous patient population, a relatively unqualified staff and cultural differences between both collaborating partners impeded implementation and had an impact on the functioning of the model.
We concluded that setting up a low intensity early discharge model of intermediate care between a university hospital and a residential home is less straightforward than was originally perceived by management, and that quality of care needs careful monitoring to ensure the change is for the better.
PMCID: PMC1168893  PMID: 15910689

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