A Physician-Led, Learning-Driven Approach to Regional Development of 23 Cancer Pathways in Sweden
Book chapter, 2014

Purpose This chapter presents a framework for an action research based intervention to develop and transform sustainable healthcare in a regional context. The framework is illustrated by the case of the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) West in western Sweden. Design/methodology/approach The framework draws upon and develops Pettigrew’s context–content–process model of strategic change and applies it to the unfolding narrative of the change effort. The empirical focus is the activities of a learning platform consisting of the RCC leadership, senior cancer physicians designated as process owners and an action research team. Data were collected from documents, observations of the learning platform, notes from meetings and interviews. Outcome data were obtained via the self-reporting of the physicians. Findings The learning platform established the capability for wide ranging development and quality improvement on the 23 cancer pathways as well as some support activities around principles of patient-centred care. A clear result is greater inter-organisational collaboration between care professionals as well as the introduction of new medicines, clinical methods, joint learning activities and new forms of measurement and monitoring of care practices. All of the improved measures are sustained. Originality/value Whilst there is no shortage of rhetoric on patient-centred care, the reality is that in complex healthcare systems solutions such as process-oriented approaches often fail. This case presents a model and an approach that eschews clear visions for change and instead places an emphasis on dialogue, participation, professional autonomy and collaborative communities as means for achieving the patient-centred ideal. The case also shows the value of seeing sustainable health systems as being grounded on practitioner–scholar collaboration that combines practical knowing with scientific knowledge.

collaborative communities

cancer care

Action research

regional health systems

care pathways


Andreas Hellström

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Quality Sciences

Svante Lifvergren

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Quality Sciences

Tony Huzzard

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Quality Sciences

Nils Conradi

Sahlgrenska University Hospital

Organizing for Sustainable Effectiveness

2045-0605 (ISSN) 2045-0613 (eISSN)

Vol. 4 101-131
978-1-78441-035-3 (ISBN)

Subject Categories

Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Areas of Advance

Life Science Engineering (2010-2018)

Learning and teaching

Pedagogical work





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4/5/2022 6