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Medical directors’ perspectives on strengthening hospital quality and safety

Rachel Canaway (Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
Marie Bismark (Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
David Dunt (Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
Margaret Kelaher (Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)

Journal of Health Organization and Management

ISSN: 1477-7266

Article publication date: 9 October 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to understand the concerns and factors that impact on hospital quality and safety, particularly related to use of performance data, within a setting of devolved governance.

Design/methodology/approach

This qualitative study used thematic analysis of interviews with public hospital medical directors. For additional context, findings were framed by themes from a review of hospital safety and quality in the same jurisdiction.

Findings

Varying approaches and levels of complexity were described about what and how performance data are reviewed, prioritised, and quality improvements implemented. Although no consistent narrative emerged, facilitators of improvement were suggested relating to organisational culture, governance, resources, education, and technologies. These hospital-level perspectives articulate with and expand on the system-level themes in a state-wide review of hospital safety and quality.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are not generalisable, but point to an underlying absence of system-wide agreement on how to perceive, retrieve, analyse, prioritise and action hospital performance data.

Practical implications

Lack of electronic medical records and an inefficient incident reporting system limits the extent to which performance and incident data can be analysed, linked and shared, thus limiting hospital performance improvement, oversight and learning.

Social implications

Variable approaches to quality and safety, standards of care, and hospital record keeping and reporting, mean that healthcare consumers might expect inconsistency across Victorian hospitals.

Originality/value

The views of medical directors have been little researched. This work uses their voice to better understand contextual factors that situate and impact on hospital quality and safety towards understanding the mixed effectiveness of hospital quality improvement strategies.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Funding for this research was provided by Medibank Better Health Foundation. The authors would like to thank the medical directors involved, and to Khic-Houy Prang for her role in the project.

Citation

Canaway, R., Bismark, M., Dunt, D. and Kelaher, M. (2017), "Medical directors’ perspectives on strengthening hospital quality and safety", Journal of Health Organization and Management, Vol. 31 No. 7/8, pp. 696-712. https://doi.org/10.1108/JHOM-05-2017-0109

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited