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      Ten challenges in improving quality in healthcare: lessons from the Health Foundation's programme evaluations and relevant literature


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          Formal evaluations of programmes are an important source of learning about the challenges faced in improving quality in healthcare and how they can be addressed. The authors aimed to integrate lessons from evaluations of the Health Foundation's improvement programmes with relevant literature.


          The authors analysed evaluation reports relating to five Health Foundation improvement programmes using a form of ‘best fit’ synthesis, where a pre-existing framework was used for initial coding and then updated in response to the emerging analysis. A rapid narrative review of relevant literature was also undertaken.


          The authors identified ten key challenges: convincing people that there is a problem that is relevant to them; convincing them that the solution chosen is the right one; getting data collection and monitoring systems right; excess ambitions and ‘projectness’; organisational cultures, capacities and contexts; tribalism and lack of staff engagement; leadership; incentivising participation and ‘hard edges’; securing sustainability; and risk of unintended consequences. The authors identified a range of tactics that may be used to respond to these challenges.


          Securing improvement may be hard and slow and faces many challenges. Formal evaluations assist in recognising the nature of these challenges and help in addressing them.

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          Most cited references17

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          Does organisational culture influence health care performance? A review of the evidence.

          To review the evidence for a relationship between organisational culture and health care performance. Qualitative comprehensive review: all empirical studies exploring a relationship between organisational culture (broadly defined) and health care performance (broadly defined) were identified by a comprehensive search of the literature. Study methods and results were analysed qualitatively to provide a narrative review with integrative discussion. Ten studies met the inclusion criteria. There was considerable variation in the design, study setting, quality of reporting and aspects of culture/performance considered. Four of the ten studies reviewed in detail claimed to have uncovered supportive evidence for the hypothesis that culture and performance are linked. All the other studies failed to find a link, though none provided strong evidence against the hypothesis. There is some evidence to suggest that organisational culture may be a relevant factor in health care performance, yet articulating the nature of that relationship proves difficult. Simple relationships such as 'strong culture leads to good performance' are not supported by this review. Instead, the evidence suggests a more contingent relationship, in that those aspects of performance valued within different cultures may be enhanced within organisations that exhibit those cultural traits. A striking finding is the difficulty in defining and operationalising both 'culture' and 'performance' as variables that are conceptually and practically distinct. Considerably greater methodological ingenuity will be required to unravel the relationship(s) between organisational culture(s) and performance(s). Current policy prescriptions, which seek service improvements through cultural transformation, are in need of a more secure evidential base.
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            Representativeness, legitimacy and power in public involvement in health-service management.

            Public participation in health-service management is an increasingly prominent policy internationally. Frequently, though, academic studies have found it marginalized by health professionals who, keen to retain control over decision-making, undermine the legitimacy of involved members of the public, in particular by questioning their representativeness. This paper examines this negotiation of representative legitimacy between staff and involved users by drawing on a qualitative study of service-user involvement in pilot cancer-genetics services recently introduced in England, using interviews, participant observation and documentary analysis. In contrast to the findings of much of the literature, health professionals identified some degree of representative legitimacy in the contributions made by users. However, the ways in which staff and users constructed representativeness diverged significantly. Where staff valued the identities of users as biomedical and lay subjects, users themselves described the legitimacy of their contribution in more expansive terms of knowledge and citizenship. My analysis seeks to show how disputes over representativeness relate not just to a struggle for power according to contrasting group interests, but also to a substantive divergence in understanding of the nature of representativeness in the context of state-orchestrated efforts to increase public participation. This divergence might suggest problems with the enactment of such aspirations in practice; alternatively, however, contestation of representative legitimacy might be understood as reflecting ambiguities in policy-level objectives for participation, which secure implementation by accommodating the divergent constructions of those charged with putting initiatives into practice.
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              Advancing the science of patient safety.

              Despite a decade's worth of effort, patient safety has improved slowly, in part because of the limited evidence base for the development and widespread dissemination of successful patient safety practices. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality sponsored an international group of experts in patient safety and evaluation methods to develop criteria to improve the design, evaluation, and reporting of practice research in patient safety. This article reports the findings and recommendations of this group, which include greater use of theory and logic models, more detailed descriptions of interventions and their implementation, enhanced explanation of desired and unintended outcomes, and better description and measurement of context and of how context influences interventions. Using these criteria and measuring and reporting contexts will improve the science of patient safety.

                Author and article information

                BMJ Qual Saf
                BMJ Qual Saf
                BMJ quality & safety
                BMJ Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                October 2012
                28 April 2012
                : 21
                : 10
                : 876-884
                Social Science Applied to Healthcare Improvement Research Group, Department of Health Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Professor Mary Dixon-Woods, Social Science Applied to Healthcare Improvement Research Group, Department of Health Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Leicester, 2nd Floor, Adrian Building, University Road, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK; md11@ 123456le.ac.uk
                Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to http://group.bmj.com/group/rights-licensing/permissions

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/ and http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/legalcode

                : 20 February 2012
                Narrative Review
                Custom metadata

                Public health
                qualitative research,epidemiology and detection,culture,medical error,quality of care,adverse events


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