Introduction: Many care organisations claim to employ multidisciplinary teams, but the term is used to describe quite different forms of collaboration. A systemic view of the work organisation of care delivery is presented and applied in this article that allows to identify and understand often overlooked yet important differences regarding team composition, working relationships and therapeutic relationships.
Theory and Methods: We used modern socio-technical systems theory to study care delivery for a particular patient population as a system of interrelated activities. The concept of work organisation refers to the way in which the composite task of care delivery is divided into distinct tasks and how these are grouped in either monodisciplinary or multidisciplinary organisational units. The systemic perspective was applied in a comparative case study of four Multiple Sclerosis hospitals.
Results: Among the hospitals, one was characterised by a functional work organisation, with similar tasks grouped in monodisciplinary teams. Cross-disciplinary working and therapeutic relationships were established on an ad hoc basis. The three other hospitals adopted a more process-oriented work organisation (which groups all tasks related to a specific care process within a single, multidisciplinary team). The more process-oriented the work organisation, the more working relationships and therapeutic relationships appeared to be fixed and continuous.
Conclusion and discussion: The systemic view adopted in this study yields a better understanding of multidisciplinary teams through the concept of work organisation. The actual composition of multidisciplinary teams, and the related working and therapeutic relationships will vary depending on the type of underlying work organisation. Further validation of this conclusion will be needed in other settings.
Published on 2018-07-05 18:16:24