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Healthcare quality improvement – policy implications and practicalities

Ann Elizabeth Esain (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Sharon J. Williams (Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)
Sandeep Gakhal (Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK)
Lynne Caley (Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK)
Matthew W. Cooke (Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Article publication date: 31 August 2012

Abstract

Purpose

This article aims to explore quality improvement (QI) at individual, group and organisational level. It also aims to identify restraining forces using formative evaluation and discuss implications for current UK policy, particularly quality, innovation, productivity and prevention.

Design/methodology/approach

Learning events combined with work‐based projects, focusing on individual and group responses are evaluated. A total of 11 multi‐disciplinary groups drawn from NHS England healthcare Trusts (self‐governing operational groups) were sampled. These Trusts have different geographic locations and participants were drawn from primary, secondary and commissioning arms. Mixed methods: questionnaires, observations and reflective accounts were used.

Findings

The paper finds that solution versus problem identification causes confusion and influences success. Time for problem solving to achieve QI was absent. Feedback and learning structures are often not in place or inflexible. Limited focus on patient‐centred services may be related to past assumptions regarding organisational design, hence assumptions and models need to be understood and challenged.

Practical implications

The authors revise the Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) model by adding an explicit problem identification step and hence avoiding solution‐focused habits; demonstrating the need for more formative evaluations to inform managers and policy makers about healthcare QI processes.

Originality/value

Although UK‐centric, the quality agenda is a USA and European theme, findings may help those embarking on this journey or those struggling with QI.

Keywords

Citation

Elizabeth Esain, A., Williams, S.J., Gakhal, S., Caley, L. and Cooke, M.W. (2012), "Healthcare quality improvement – policy implications and practicalities", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 25 No. 7, pp. 565-581. https://doi.org/10.1108/09526861211261172

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited