Integrated Quality Development in Public Healthcare. A Comparison of Six Hospitals’ Quality Programmes and a Practical Theory for Quality Management

Sue Jackson (Women’s Services Manager, Royal Shrewsbury Hospitals, UK)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Article publication date: 1 April 2000




Jackson, S. (2000), "Integrated Quality Development in Public Healthcare. A Comparison of Six Hospitals’ Quality Programmes and a Practical Theory for Quality Management", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 93-94.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This book is an excellent contribution to the current texts available covering healthcare and quality. Its strengths are that it is easy to read, healthcare specific and contains new material which has emerged from real life experiences. As a result of working with six hospitals over a period of four years Øvretveit provides very practical answers to a number of very vital questions, in addition to a list of essential dos and don’ts. Furthermore the learning gained from receiving the answers and advice can realistically be applied before and/or during the implementation of any total quality management programme. Hence, it is never too late to read this book if you want to improve your quality journey and the likelihood of attaining success.

The book is designed for busy clinicians, managers and policy makers, which means it contains the necessary information without the unnecessary volume of words. This is not to say that there is an absence of theoretical underpinning. On the contrary Øvretveit has aptly identified where the reader would benefit from gaining clarity of some of the quality concepts. For instance, the book contains a brief explanation of the distinction between quality assurance and total quality management.

Øvretveit describes the book as a report that compares the similarities and differences of six Norwegian hospitals’ approach to implementing quality. The purpose of the text is to: “identify approaches and choices which were common to all hospitals and to assess whether these are to be recommended for other hospitals”, and to “identify whether any hospitals made significantly different decisions or choices and whether these decisions led to more successful programmes”.

The first section of the book provides a background to the hospitals and their motivation for pursuing quality. Next, important aspects of their differing approaches are discussed and analysed in relation to the results achieved. It is this process that provides the answers and insight into why quality programmes fail or succeed. The final chapters of the book contain Øvretveit’s proposal for healthcare organisations to utilise an integrated quality development framework for future quality improvement.

When reading any book I usually highlight the points I feel are important. Whilst reading Øvretveit’s book I found myself wanting to highlight most of the text. I felt so inspired and enthused by the content of the book that I wanted to recommend its use to everyone implementing total quality management within a healthcare setting. It really is an essential read.

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