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Buffer management to solve bed-blocking in the Netherlands, 2000-2010. Cooperation from an integrated care chain perspective as a key success factor for managing patient flows.

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Author(s): Ingrid Mur | Mark Govers

Journal: International Journal of Integrated Care
ISSN 1568-4156

Volume: 11;
Issue: 5;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: buffer management | bed-blocking | integrated care | care chain | cooperation | patient flow | theory of constraints

ABSTRACT
Introduction: Bed-blocking problems in hospitals reflect how difficult and complex it is to move patients smoothly through the chain of care. In the Netherlands, during the first decade of the 21st century, some hospitals attempted to tackle this problem by using an Intermediate Care Department (ICD) as a buffer for bed-blockers. However, research has shown that ICDs do not sufficiently solve the bed-blocking problem and that bed-blocking is often caused by a lack of buffer management.Tool: Buffer management (BM) is a tool that endeavors to balance patient flow in the hospital to nursing home chain of care. Results: Additional research has indicated that the absence of BM is not the result of providers' thinking that BM is unnecessary, unethical or impossible because of unpredictable patient flows. Instead, BM is hampered by a lack of cooperation between care providers.Conclusion: Although stakeholders recognize that cooperation is imperative, they often fail to take the actions necessary to realize cooperation. Our assumption is that this lack of willingness and ability to cooperate is the result of several impeding conditions as well as stakeholders' perceptions of these conditions and the persistence of their current routines, principles and beliefs (RPBs).Discussion: We recommend simultaneously working on improving the conditions and changing stakeholders' perceptions and RPBs.
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