An Empirical Examination of the Impacts of Decentralized Nursing
Debajyoti Pati (PI), Tom Harvey, and Sipra Pati
Barbara Summers, Professor and Chair, Department of Nursing, Division of Ofc/VP, Chief Nursing Officer, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Pamela Redden, Director of clinical operations development, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
WHAT WAS THE AIM
The objective of the study was to examine the impact of decentralization on operational efficiency, staff well-being, and teamwork on three inpatient units.
Why is it important
Decentralized unit operations and the corresponding physical design solution were hypothesized to positively affect several concerns—productive use of nursing time, staff stress, walking distances, and teamwork, among others. With a wide adoption of the concept, empirical evidence on the impact of decentralization was warranted.
WHAT DID WE DO | HOW DID WE DO IT
A multimethod, before-and-after, quasi-experimental design was adopted for the study, focusing on five issues, namely, (1) how nurses spend their time, (2) walking distance, (3) acute stress, (4) productivity, and (5) teamwork. Data on all five issues were collected on three older units with centralized operational model (before move). The same set of data, with identical tools and measures, were collected on the same units after move in to new physical units with decentralized operational model. Data were collected during spring and fall of 2011.
What did we find
Documentation, nurse station use, medication room use, and supplies room use showed consistent change across the three units. Walking distance increased (statistically significant) on two of the three units. Self-reported level of collaboration decreased, although assessment of the physical facility for collaboration increased. The finding suggested that decentralized nursing and physical design models potentially result in quality of work improvements associated with documentation, medication, and supplies. However, there are unexpected consequences associated with walking, and staff collaboration and teamwork. The solution to the unexpected consequences may lie in operational interventions and greater emphasis on culture change.
What is next
Data demonstrate that decentralized unit nursing and physical design models result in quality of work improvements associated with documentation, medication and supplies. However, further studies needed to explore unexpected and unintended consequences associated with walking, and staff communication, collaboration and interaction. In the current healthcare business and operational models, the solutions to the unexpected consequences may lie in operational interventions and greater emphasis on culture change.