Annual Review of Health Care Management: Strategy and Policy Perspectives on Reforming Health Systems: Volume 13


Table of contents

(17 chapters)
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Virtually every health system in the world is wrestling with the multifaceted question of how to most effectively reform their system in order to provide care to ever-growing numbers of people and simultaneously try to keep overall costs under control. In most nations, this dyad is complicated by the addition of a third critical element – quality. In his book, Medicine's Dilemmas: Infinite Need Versus Finite Resources (1994), Dr. William Kissick speaks clearly about the presence of the Iron Triangle in every health system. That triangle has at its vertices the elements of cost, quality, and access. Dr. Kissick makes the point that these three elements must be balanced in order for the health system to optimally function. For example, it is exceedingly unlikely if not totally impossible to significantly increase access to health services and hold quality constant without increasing cost. Alternatively, reducing cost must be accompanied by either reducing access or cutting back on quality.

Purpose – To offer a theoretical explanation for observed physician resistance and rejection of high reliability patient safety initiatives.

Design/methodology/approach – A grounded theoretical qualitative approach, utilizing the organizational theory of sensemaking, provided the foundation for inductive and deductive reasoning employed to analyze medical staff rejection of two successfully performing high reliability programs at separate hospitals.

Findings – Physician behaviors resistant to patient-centric high reliability processes were traced to provider-centric physician sensemaking.

Research limitations/implications – Research, conducted with the advantage that prospective studies have over the limitations of this retrospective investigation, is needed to evaluate the potential for overcoming physician resistance to innovation implementation, employing strategies based upon these findings and sensemaking theory in general.

Practical implications – If hospitals are to emulate high reliability industries that do successfully manage environments of extreme hazard, physicians must be fully integrated into the complex teams required to accomplish this goal.

Social implications – Reforming health care, through high reliability organizing, with its attendant continuous focus on patient-centric processes, offers a distinct alternative to efforts directed primarily at reforming health care insurance. It is by changing how health care is provided that true cost efficiencies can be achieved. Technology and the insights of organizational science present the opportunity of replacing the current emphasis on privileged information with collective tools capable of providing quality and safety in health care.

Originality/value – The fictions that have sustained a provider-centric health care system have been challenged. The benefits of patient-centric care should be obtainable.

Purpose – To develop a framework for studying financial incentive program implementation mechanisms, the means by which physician practices and physicians translate incentive program goals into their specific office setting. Understanding how new financial incentives fit with the structure of physician practices and individual providers’ work may shed some insight on the variable effects of physician incentives documented in numerous reviews and meta-analyses.

Design/Methodology/Approach – Reviewing select articles on pay-for-performance evaluations to identify and characterize the presence of implementation mechanisms for designing, communicating, implementing, and maintaining financial incentive programs as well as recognizing participants’ success and effects on patient care.

Findings – Although uncommonly included in evaluations, evidence from 26 articles reveals financial incentive program sponsors and participants utilized a variety of strategies to facilitate communication about program goals and intentions, to provide feedback about participants’ progress, and to assist practices in providing recommended services. Despite diversity in programs’ geographic locations, clinical targets, scope, and market context, sponsors and participants deployed common strategies. While these methods largely pertained to communication between program sponsors and participants and the provision of information about performance through reports and registries, they also included other activities such as efforts to engage patients and ways to change staff roles.

Limitations – This review covers a limited body of research to develop a conceptual framework for future research; it did not exhaustively search for new articles and cannot definitively link particular implementation mechanisms to outcomes.

Practical Implications – Our results underscore the effects implementation mechanisms may have on how practices incorporate new programs into existing systems of care which implicates both the potential rewards from small changes as well as the resources which may be required to obtain buy-in and support.

Originality/Value – We identify gaps in previous research regarding actual changes occurring in physician practices in response to physician incentive programs. We offer suggestions for future evaluation by proposing a framework for understanding implementation. Our model will assist future scholars in translating site-specific experiences with incentive programs into more broadly relevant guidance for practices by facilitating comparisons across seemingly disparate programs.

Purpose – In an attempt to enhance patient safety, health care facilities are increasingly turning to crew resource management (CRM) and other teamwork training interventions. However, there is still quite a bit about such training interventions that remain unclear. Accordingly, our primary intent herein is to provide some clarity by providing a review of the literature, in hopes of highlighting the current state of the literature as well as identifying the areas that should be addressed by researchers in this field going forward.

Design/methodology/approach – We searched various electronic databases and utilized numerous relevant search terms to maximize the likelihood of identifying all empirical research related to the use of CRM training within health care. Additionally, we conducted a manual search of the most relevant journals and also conducted a legacy search to identify even more articles. Furthermore, given that as a research team we have experience with CRM initiatives, we also integrate the lessons learned through this experience.

Findings – Based on our review of the literature, CRM and teamwork training programs generally appear beneficial to individual employees, the groups and teams within such settings, and overall health care organizations.

Originality/value – In addition to reviewing the literature that addressed CRM and teamwork training, we also highlight some of the more critical aspects of CRM training programs in order for such initiatives to be as successful as possible. Additionally, we detail various factors that appear essential to sustaining any benefits of CRM over the long haul.

Purpose – This paper explores differences in decision-making approaches between physician executives and nonphysician executives in a managerial setting.

Design/Methodology/Approach – Fredrickson and Mitchell's (1984) conceptualization of the construct of comprehensiveness in strategic decision making is the central construct of this paper. Theories of professional identity, socialization, and institutional/dominant logics are applied to illustrate their impact on strategic decision-making approaches of physician and nonphysician executives.

Findings – This paper proposes that high-status professionals, specifically physicians, occupying senior management roles are likely to approach decision making in a way that is consistent with their professional identity, and by extension, that departments led by physician executives are less likely to exhibit comprehensiveness in strategic decision-making processes than departments led by nonphysician executives.

Originality/Value – This paper provides conceptual evidence that physicians and nonphysicians approach management differently, and introduces the utility of comprehensiveness as a construct for strategic decision making in the context of health care management.

Purpose – This paper uses the theory of interagency information sharing as a lens to determine the benefits, risks, and past experiences of those involved in information sharing.

Design/Methodology/Approach – The authors analyze the current existent literature related to sharing of information between health care employers. A theory that could be useful in the creation of a policy and management framework that would facilitate information sharing is also thoroughly explored. Commentary and analysis result in strategies for health care employers to utilize when facing the challenging issues involved with hiring employees.

Findings – The paper details how human resource professionals can utilize technology and existing theory to properly implement information sharing techniques into their organization.

Originality/Value – The information technology changes that are taking place within health care organizations and systems across the country create the opportunity for these organizations and systems to proactively implement strategies that will positively affect organizational performance. By investing in information sharing techniques while utilizing the theories outlined in this paper, organizations and systems may avoid many of the issues associated with hiring problem employees.

Purpose – Hospitals need to determine if an international patient department is a necessity to communicate with and manage international patients.

Design/Methodology/Approach – A benchmarking instrument was created to assess the level of professionalism in managing international patients, including reviewing and validating processes by two university hospitals, professionals, and an expert panel.

Findings – First, the differences between the hospitals depended on the will of the hospital to engage in such activities. Second, the differences depended on the embedding national context in which the hospital was situated. Further validation revealed the importance of other supportive services, such as cultural sensitivity and language. Finally, the microlevel phenomenon of international patient departments is placed within a macrolevel transnational health region development scheme.

Originality/Value – This study focused on the supply of services with respect to international patient departments, which could be related to efficiency and sustainability on a public health and health systems level.

Purpose – This paper focuses on efficiency as a central theme of the Italian health care reforms, combining macrolevel policies with microlevel (i.e., operating room) perceptions of the concept.

Design/Methodology/Approach – According to the phenomenographic approach, this analysis investigates how the components of a surgical team (22 semistructured interviews) experience efficiency in their daily workflows.

Findings – The main findings show that the concept of efficiency is multidimensional. According to participants’ perspective, several categories of efficiency collected in an outcome space emphasize an holistic view of efficiency driving health policies and strategies.

Social implications – The suggestion of further relationships between perspectives and other constructs (i.e., quality, safety, patient focus, process) at micro and macro level could enhance the impact of health reforms.

Originality/Value – A qualitative approach conducted at microlevel help to recognize the phenomenon (of efficiency), engaging the individual conception that practitioners have of the health efficiency.

Purpose – Research on hospital system organization is dated and cross-sectional. We analyze trends in system structure during 2000–2010 to ascertain whether they have become more centralized or decentralized.

Design/Methodology/Approach – We test hypotheses drawn from organization theory and estimate empirical models to study the structural transitions that systems make between different “clusters” defined by the American Hospital Association.

Findings – There is a clear trend toward system fragmentation during most of this period, with a small recent shift to centralization in some systems. Systems decentralize as they increase their members and geographic dispersion. This is particularly true for systems that span multiple states; it is less true for smaller regional systems and local systems that adopt a hub-and-spoke configuration around a teaching hospital.

Research Limitations – Our time series ends in 2010 just as health care reform was implemented. We also rely on a single measure of system centralization.

Research Implications – Systems that appear to be able to centrally coordinate their services are those that operate in local or regional markets. Larger systems that span several states are likely to decentralize or fragment.

Practical Implications – System fragmentation may thwart policy aims pursued in health care reform. The potential of Accountable Care Organizations rests on their ability to coordinate multiple providers via centralized governance. Hospitals systems are likely to be central players in many ACOs, but may lack the necessary coherence to effectively play this governance role.

Originality/Value – Not all hospital systems act in a systemic manner. Those systems that are centralized (and presumably capable of acting in concerted fashion) are in the minority and have declined in prevalence over most of the past decade.

All too often in scholarly publications, two questions typically go unanswered – so what and who cares? Stated in less crass terms, what difference does a particular publication make and to what extent are the thoughts and ideas of the authors used in a way that organizations and the people who populate then are better off? It is common practice for academics to be rewarded for writing to other academics in arcane journals in prose that is convoluted at best and frequently recycles old ideas or seeks to reaffirm the findings of others. In other words, a large part of traditional academic literature fails both tests.

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Advances in Health Care Management
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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