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How quality improvement programs can affect general hospital performance

Eitan Naveh (Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel)
Zvi Stern (Hadassah Hebrew University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Article publication date: 1 June 2005




Given the enormous size of the health care industry, the problem of developing high‐quality, cost‐effective health care delivery systems is growing in importance. There is general consensus that health care systems require a continuous process of quality improvement (QI). Less agreement, however, surrounds the mechanisms to be implemented so that such a process is effective. This study aims to bring empirical evidence to support the hypothesis that a QI program in a general hospital – a special context of the health care delivery system – does not necessarily lead to better overall organizational performance results.


The study was done at the hospital level, and included all acute care hospitals in Israel. Data was collected in 16 of the country's 23 hospitals, a 70 percent response rate. The study compared hospital performance before and after the QI program implementation.


The study shows that QI creates meaningful improvement events. In addition, the research supports the hypothesis that increasing the number of QI activities (items) included in the QI program brings about more improvement events. The results do not support the hypothesis that high, rather than low, intensive implementation of QI activities leads to more improvement events.


The special context of general hospitals decreases the effects of a QI program on overall hospital performance, whereas QI activities function as triggers in initiating improvement events.



Naveh, E. and Stern, Z. (2005), "How quality improvement programs can affect general hospital performance", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 249-270.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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