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Rickard Garvare
Rickard Garvare, Professor in Quality Engineering and Management at Luleå University of Technology.

New ways of working can save lives

Published: 30 September 2015

In cooperation with the County Councils in Norrbotten and Västerbotten, Umeå University and Karolinska Institutet, researchers at Luleå University of technology will discuss how new work approaches can be implemented in healthcare. The goal is to create more efficient and safer operations.

–To successfully introduce new ways of working both saves money and improves care. There are many examples of situations in which new and better ways to manage disease have been discovered, but where it has taken many years before the practice or prescription of medication actually has changed, says Rickard Garvare, Professor in Quality Engineering and management at Luleå University of Technology, which has extensive experience in process orientation and health-related projects.

To quickly turn new work approaches into county-wide standards has proven difficult. For example, it may work well in one part of the organization, but does not easily spread to adjacent units, county councils or private care providers.

– Concrete examples of new work approaches could be found in national clinical guidelines for treatment of for instance depression and anxiety, substance abuse and addiction, cardiovascular disease and dementia. We have studied the development and implementation of guidelines on disease prevention and have seen that there are big challenges, says Rickard Garvare.

The change needs to be management driven

Rickard Garvare believes that the challenges partly comes from the county council's complex structure, management and leadership. To achieve real change is a tough assignment. New supportive structures that have a holistic perspective may need to be developed, something which has already been made in the participating county councils.

– Of course everyone wants to give the impression that they work in a modern and rational way, but there are always a lot of underlying human needs such as power and influence that is hard to get away from. You need to optimize based on a business perspective rather than allowing private interests to control. We have much to learn from the advanced business support developed within the County Councils of Norrbotten and Västerbotten, concludes Rickard Garvare.

The one-year collaboration project is financed by Vinnova.