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The challenge of the new disease unit in the healthcare scenario

Healthcare organizations should employ new organizational models to support clinicians working in the best possible way, in a patient-centric approach.

The so-called “disease units” represent new organizational models aimed at designing an effective and efficient care and treatment path following a patient-centric philosophy, concentrating the efforts and tasks of multidisciplinary clinical figures.

In a disease unit, clinical and managerial endeavours should promote knowledge sharing, data collection, research, and translation into clinical practice.

The most renowned example is represented by Brest Units. Statistics show how patients treated in Brest Units reach better clinical outcomes, satisfaction, and overall quality of life than patients treated in non-specialized centres.

The new challenge in the international scenario is now represented by the establishment of Pancreas Units, and their meaningful organizational factors. In Spring 2022, the Lombardy Region in Italy officially kicked off the establishment of Pancreas Units in the regional territory, according to a hub-and-spoke model.

The ITIR team has promoted several initiatives to join the conversation at a national and international level and support the design and establishment of such units.

One first investigation has been made enquiring some healthcare managers of the Lombardy Region about the most relevant factors of the newborn Pancreas Units, in collaboration with the EMMLOS Master. Results were published here.

One more investigation is ongoing with the endorsement of the scientific society E-AHPBA. 30 European leaders in pancreatic surgery participated in a Delphi panel to understand the most relevant factors, barriers, and facilitators of these new organizational models.

A Special Issue Call for Papers in Frontiers in Surgery and Frontiers in Oncology has just been closed. More specifically, the purpose of the Special Issue was to gather the most recent developments and undergoing studies in pancreatic cancer care following a multidisciplinary approach, including their organizational, managerial, and healthcare implications, their impacts on surgical and oncological practice, and clinical decision-making.

Results underlined the fundamental role of multidisciplinarity and the need for more research in the clinical and organizational spheres.

The debate about the strategic role of Disease Units, the way they should be managed, and the multistakeholder engagement they should foster has just started, and it does represent a cutting-edge topic in healthcare.