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Managing cancer care through service delivery networks: the role of professional collaboration in two European cancer networks


Managing cancer care through service delivery networks: the role of professional collaboration in two European cancer networks



Health Services Management Research 31(3): 120-129



ISSN/ISBN: 0951-4848

PMID: 29239683

DOI: 10.1177/0951484817745219

Background The study examines two meso-strategic cancer networks, exploring to what extent collaboration can strengthen or hamper network effectiveness. Unlike macro-strategic networks, meso-strategic networks have no hierarchical governance structures nor are they institutionalised within healthcare services' delivery systems. This study aims to analyse the models of professional cooperation and the tools developed for managing clinical practice within two meso-strategic, European cancer networks. Methods Multiple case study design based on the comparative analysis of two cancer networks: Iridium, in Antwerp, Belgium and the Institut Català d'Oncologia in Catalonia, Spain. The case studies applied mixed methods, with qualitative research based on semi-structured interviews ( n = 35) together with case-site observation and material collection. Results The analysis identified four levels of collaborative intensity within medical specialties as well as in multidisciplinary settings, which became both platforms for crosscutting clinical work between hubs' experts and local care teams and the levers for network-based tools development. The organisation of clinical practice relied on professional-based cooperative processes and tiers, lacking vertical integration mechanisms. Conclusions The intensity of professional linkages largely shaped the potential of meso-strategic cancer networks to influence clinical practice organisation. Conversely, the introduction of managerial techniques or network governance structures, without introducing vertical hierarchies, was found to be critical solutions.

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