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A Partnership Model in Clinical Leadership

Background

This is a success story in clinical leadership based on a 'partnership model of doctors and managers' which in the course of two years turned round a stumbling mental health service into a capable, competent and confident organisation that then joined the ranks of national leaders in health care provision.

Programme and method

Sponsorship from the top is essential to the success of any programme of significant management change. This initiative sprang out of work with the Executive Director of a locality, who, with the Associate Medical Director, wanted to engage psychiatrists more closely with the managers in the locality, particularly in introducing more effective services to users. Senior service managers were partnered with lead psychiatrists for each service, who undertook the programme together. The main elements of the twelve month programme were a cultural audit of the current situation - the responses from which were subjected to thematic analysis with results fed back to all participants, followed by personality profiling of all participants using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), away days to develop a common mission and understanding of roles and individual coaching for all participants to help them work effectively in their new roles. An essential element of the programme was the role modelling and participation of both the Executive Director and the Associate Medical Director, who had themselves undergone a similar development programme during which they had developed an effective, collaborative and trusting working relationship. The cultural audit was repeated at the end of the year.

Results

The initial audit revealed a history of mistrust between doctors and managers, with inadequate communication. While they shared common goals for their services, the partners had not taken time to get to know each other and understand each others motivations. The success of the development programme was apparent in the repeat audit which showed significant improvement in communication and relationships within each of the manager/doctor partnerships. There were frequent meetings between them and, with a few exceptions, they were working collaboratively together to improve patient services and deal with problems as they arose. More overtly the success of the partnership model was apparent in the turn around in the locality service in terms of its credibility, capacity, performance outcomes and financial stability.

Read related article in the Health Services Journal here.

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