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Prioritising the mobilisation of emergency medical services: patient making at the healthcare gateway

Allen, Davina ORCID: 2021. Prioritising the mobilisation of emergency medical services: patient making at the healthcare gateway. Journal of Health Organization and Management 35 (2) , pp. 160-176. 10.1108/JHOM-07-2020-0305

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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to analyse the socio-material practices through which organisational understanding of patients is accomplished in order to prioritise calls and mobilise emergency medical services at the gateway of the healthcare system. Design/methodology/approach The methodology of this paper is an ethnographic study of the co-ordination of collective action in an emergency services control room in the Welsh NHS, with data generation and analysis informed by Translational Mobilisation Theory. Findings Mobilisation of emergency medical services entails the translation of callers' undifferentiated problems into response priority categories, which are used by dispatch operators to mobilise crews. A central actor in these processes is the computerised Medical Priority Dispatch System. While designed to enable non-clinically qualified call handlers to triage calls in a standardised way, the system constrains caller–call handler interaction, which negatively impacts the categorisation process. Analysis of these interactional difficulties and associated mitigation strategies highlights opportunities for intervening to support co-ordination at this healthcare boundary. Originality/value Orthodox approaches to improving interface management are founded on a conceptualisation of “patients” as immutable actors in care transfer processes. Translational Mobilisation Theory brings into view the multiple versions of the “patient” produced by healthcare systems and offers a framework for analysing the mechanisms of action necessary to create organisational understandings of patients at boundary crossings. While the ambulance control centre is a singular case, the paper illustrates the value of attending to these processes in interface organisation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Publisher: Emerald
ISSN: 1477-7266
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 February 2021
Date of Acceptance: 24 November 2020
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 02:18

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