Title: Action research and soft systems methodology for studying problems in emergency care delivery

Authors: Remco Rosmulder, Koos Krabbendam, Toon Kerkhoff, Jan Luitse

Addresses: Faculty of Management and Governance, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands. ' Faculty of Management and Governance, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands. ' Faculty of Management and Governance, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands. ' Emergency Department, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Abstract: This article describes the use of action research (AR) and soft systems methodology (SSM) for studying and taking action in complex and unstructured problem situations. Drawing from AR and SSM principles, it proposes a research methodology to study and improve problematic flows of patients in emergency departments using operations management concepts. Three examples illustrate the methodology: analysis and improvement actions in acute radiology service, the design and introduction of a central status board and tests of an advanced triage system. This article concludes that an action mode of research is worthy of being pursued further, in emergency departments and beyond.

Keywords: action research; emergency care delivery; emergency departments; healthcare technology; healthcare management; operations management; research methodology; soft systems methodology; patient flow; acute radiology services; advanced triage; emergency patients.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHTM.2009.030452

International Journal of Healthcare Technology and Management, 2009 Vol.10 No.4/5, pp.289 - 302

Published online: 16 Dec 2009 *

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