The article relies on qualitative research methods to investigate how by the means of institutional work healthcare professionals introduce patient-centered care in Russian maternity hospitals. Post-socialist healthcare is commonly viewed in academic literature as a highly centralized and state-controlled domain, where autonomy and agency of both patients and practitioners are significantly restricted. Our research contributes empirically to scholarly debate by questioning this assumption and by providing shreds of evidence of healthcare professionals’ ground-level initiatives. On the conceptual level, we add to the discussion about the dynamic interrelation between institutional change, clients’ demands, and the transformation of professionals’ position. We argue that neoliberal reforms in Russian healthcare have created institutional uncertainty which is strategically used by professionals to expand the scope of their workplace autonomy and to develop patient-centeredness as an institutional innovation. However, our research shows that the resulting model of patient-centeredness contributes to empowering healthcare practitioners, rather than to increasing patients’ participation in decision-making.

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