III: Disruptions and Change in Human Centered Organizational Culture in Healthcare

Healthcare and the Human Centered Organizational Culture during the COVID-19 PandemicThe Italian Experience

Francesca Dal Mas, Gabriele Romani, Mirko Modenese, Rossella Luca, Maria Francesca Manca, Maria Ferrara, Lorenzo Cobianchi


The Human Centered Management model focuses on the relevance of the wellbeing of people as customers and patients, in the case of healthcare, and workers who use their talent, human capital and skills to produce services as a necessary condition for organizations to attain long-term sustainability (Lepeley, 2017; Massaro, Bardy, Lepeley, & Dal Mas, 2014). Human Centered Management stresses the importance of the wellbeing of workers engaged in rhe production of services with quality standards to secure the benefits healthcare users seek and deserve (Massaro, Bagnoli, & Dal Mas, 2020). Human Centered Management highlights that satisfied customers and engaged workers are the keys for organizations in all sectors to reach high performance, productivity and long-term sustainability (Dal Mas & Paoloni, 2019; Ochoa, Lepeley, & Essens, 2019). Lepeley emphasizes that organizations attain quality standards and can provide the best service to patients when the wellbeing of workers is central to the organization, and when people are the core in management, economies and inclusive societies (Lepeley, 2017).

The healthcare sector is strategic for the prosperity and the sustainability of society as primarily responsible for the health and wellbeing of the population (Dal Mas, Massaro, Lombardi, & Garlatti, 2019). Human Centered Management principles are critical in the healthcare sector seeking continuous improvement and quality standards that are applied in other industries. Furthermore, in the 21st century and given the level of competition, quality standards need to be a central concern and a critical responsibility for healthcare organizations and the same applies to those in the public or private sector that deliver healthcare to a large diversity of patients in multiple medical fields (Hanson & Barach, 2012).

Adopting the human centered and patient-centered philosophy is a benefit for patients and healthcare worker, but to meet the demands of Human Centered Management is a considerable challenge for the healthcare sector coping with budget constraints (Massaro, Dumay, & Garlatti, 2015), increasing demand for inpatient and outpatient services to an ageing population (Bowser, Saxena, Fraser, & Marshall, 2019), a massive technological shift (Dal Mas, Piccolo, Edvinsson, Skrap, & D’Auria, 2020; Gordon, Perlman, & Shukla, 2017) and a deficit of healthcare professionals (Limb, 2016). The coronavirus - COVID-19 -pandemic that stated to affect people in countries worldwide early in 2020 put intense stress on healthcare management of Italian public health organizations. These agencies had to cope with unprecedented change and number of emergencies while pursuing the principles of a human centered system.

This chapter presents the experience of the Health Agency of Modena Province, Italy, during the COVID-19 pandemic using a case study approach (Yin, 2014). Consideration needs to be given to the fact that the chapter was first written at the beginning of April 2020 while the COVID-19 pandemic was in full effect in a highly uncertain and unpredictable global environment. Italy, Belgium, the UK and Spain were the countries most affected by the pandemic in Europe. Data were collected by healthcare professionals directly involved in the management of COVID-19 pandemic and interpreted by a multidisciplinary team, including mental health, public health, business management and statistics/ machine learning scholars.

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