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OBJECTIVES: Value-based healthcare implies that healthcare issues are addressed most effectively with the 'physicians in the lead' (PIL) strategy. This study explores whether PIL also supports a holistic care approach that patients are increasingly demanding. DESIGN: A qualitative research design was used. SETTING: This study was conducted in a general hospital in the Netherlands with an integrated PIL strategy. PARTICIPANTS: Semistructured interviews were conducted with 14 hospital stakeholders: 13 stakeholders of an Obstetrics and Gynaecology department (the hospital's Patient Council (n=1), nurses (n=2), midwives (n=2), physicians (n=2), residents (n=2), the non-medical business managers of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology department (n=2) the Board of Directors (n=2)) and a member of the Dutch National Healthcare Institute's Innovative Healthcare Professions programme. RESULTS: According to diverse stakeholders, PIL does not support a holistic healthcare delivery approach, primarily because of the strong biomedical focus of the physicians. Although physicians can be educated to place more emphasis on the holistic outcome, holistic care delivery requires greater integration and teamwork in the care chain. As different healthcare professions are complementary to each other, a new strategy of a 'team in the lead' was suggested to meet the holistic healthcare demands. Besides this new strategy, there is a need for an extramural care management coordination centre where patients are able to receive support in managing their own care. This centre should also facilitate services similar to the core function of a church or community centre. These services should help patients to deal with different holistic dimensions that are important for their well-being. CONCLUSIONS: The PIL strategy appears to be insufficient for holistic healthcare delivery. A 'team in the lead' approach should be considered to meet the holistic healthcare demands. Further research should focus on observing PIL in different cultures and exploring the effectiveness of the strategy 'team in the lead'.