Development of an instrument to analyze organizational characteristics in multidisciplinary care pathways: the case of colorectal cancer

Dorine Pluimers, Ellen J. van Vliet, Anne G.H. Niezink, Martijn S. van Mourik, Eric H. Eddes, Michel W. Wouters, Rob A.E.M. Tollenaar, Wim H. van Harten

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Background: To analyze the organization of multidisciplinary care pathways such as colorectal cancer care, an instrument was developed based on a recently published framework that was earlier used in analyzing (monodisciplinary) specialist cataract care from a lean perspective.

Methods: The instrument was constructed using semi-structured interviews and direct observation of the colorectal care process based on a Rapid Plant Assessment. Six lean aspects that were earlier established that highly impact process design, were investigated: operational focus, autonomous work cell, physical lay-out of resources, multi-skilled team, pull planning and non-value adding activities. To test reliability, clarity and face validity of the instrument, a pilot study was performed in eight Dutch hospitals.ResultsIn the pilot it proved feasible to apply the instrument and generate the intended information. The instrument consisted of 83 quantitative and 24 qualitative items. Examples of results show differences in operational focus, number of patient visits needed for diagnosis, numbers of staff involved with treatment, the implementation of protocols and utilization of one-stop-shops. Identification of waste and non-value adding activities may need further attention. Based on feedback from involved clinicians the face validity was acceptable and the results provided useful feedback- and benchmark data. The instrument proved to be reliable and valid for broader implementation in Dutch health care. The limited number of cases made statistical analysis not possible and further validation studies may shed better light on variation.

Conclusions: This paper demonstrates the use of an instrument to analyze organizational characteristics in colorectal cancer care from a lean perspective. Wider use might help to identify best organizational practices for colorectal surgery. In larger series the instrument might be used for in-depth research into the relation between organization and patient outcomes.Although we found no reason to adapt the underlying framework, recommendations were made for further development to enable use in different tumor- and treatment modalities and in larger (international) samples that allow for more advanced statistical analysis. Waste from defective care or from wasted human potential will need further elaboration of the instrument
Original languageEnglish
Article number134
Number of pages10
JournalBMC research notes
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • IR-95819
  • METIS-310446


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