Hospital readmission rates are increasingly used for both quality improvement and cost control. However, the validity of readmission rates as a measure of quality of hospital care is not evident. We aimed to give an overview of the different methodological aspects in the definition and measurement of readmission rates that need to be considered when interpreting readmission rates as a reflection of quality of care.
We conducted a systematic literature review, using the bibliographic databases Embase, Medline OvidSP, Web-of-Science, Cochrane central and PubMed for the period of January 2001 to May 2013.
The search resulted in 102 included papers. We found that definition of the context in which readmissions are used as a quality indicator is crucial. This context includes the patient group and the specific aspects of care of which the quality is aimed to be assessed. Methodological flaws like unreliable data and insufficient case-mix correction may confound the comparison of readmission rates between hospitals. Another problem occurs when the basic distinction between planned and unplanned readmissions cannot be made. Finally, the multi-faceted nature of quality of care and the correlation between readmissions and other outcomes limit the indicator's validity.
Although readmission rates are a promising quality indicator, several methodological concerns identified in this study need to be addressed, especially when the indicator is intended for accountability or pay for performance. We recommend investing resources in accurate data registration, improved indicator description, and bundling outcome measures to provide a more complete picture of hospital care.
Iran developed a national hospital performance measurement program (HPMP) which has been implemented annually throughout its hospitals since 1997. However, little is known yet about its development and the impact of the program on hospital performance.
This study aims to describe the development and process of implementation of the HPMP, and to explore the impact on hospital performance by looking at the trends of performance scores of all different types of Iranian hospitals.
This was a mixed method study consisting of longitudinal data and qualitative document analysis. Hospital performance data over the period of 2002 to 2008 was analysed.
Iran instituted a comprehensive HPMP and implemented it in all hospitals since 1997. The program followed a phased development to stimulate performance and quality improvement in hospitals. Overall, the program has had a positive impact on the performance of general and specialized hospitals. The performance of general hospitals did not appear to be associated with their size or affiliated university ranking. However, the rate of performance improvement of general teaching and private hospitals was significantly lower than the average improvement rate of all general hospitals. There was no relationship between teaching status of the specialized hospitals and their level of performance. However, the performance of the governmental specialized hospitals showed a substantial decline over time. Moreover, among specialized hospitals, the bigger sized and those affiliated with higher ranked universities, reported better performance.
Overall, the development and implementation of an obligatory HPMP in Iran has improved the level of performance in general and specialized hospitals. However, there is room for further performance improvement especially in the general teaching, private, and governmental specialized hospitals. Reconsidering the ownership type, funding mechanisms and responsibility for the HPMP may have an impact on the absolute level of performance and improvement capacity of hospitals. In addition, the role and composition of survey teams, mechanism of implementation according to the characteristics of hospitals, and updating standards are important factors to promote performance improvement and hospital accreditation requirements.
Hospital performance; Performance measurement; Accreditation; External evaluation; Quality assurance; Quality improvement; Iran
To examine the extent of implementation for patient safety (PS) and patient-centeredness (PC) strategies and their association with hospital characteristics (type, ownership, teaching status, annual evaluation grade) in Iran.
A cross-sectional study through an adapted version of the MARQuIS questionnaire, eliciting information from hospital and nursing managers in 84 Iranian hospitals on the implementation of PS and PC strategies in 2009–2010.
The majority of hospitals reported to have implemented 84% of the PS and 72% of the PC strategies. In general, implementation of PS strategies was unrelated to the type of hospital, with the exception of health promotion reports, which were more common in the Social Security Organization (SSO), and MRSA testing, which was reported more often in nonprofit hospitals. MRSA testing was also more common among teaching hospitals compared to non-teaching hospitals. The higher grade hospitals reported PS strategies significantly more frequently than lower grade hospitals. Overall, there was no significant difference in the reported implementation of PC strategies across general and specialized hospitals; except for the provision of information in different languages and recording of patient’s diet which were reported significantly more often by general than specialized hospitals. Moreover, patient hotel services were more common in private compared to public hospitals.
Despite substantial reporting of PS and PC strategies, there is still room for strengthening standard setting on safety, patient services and patient-centered information strategies in Iranian hospitals. To assure effective implementation of PS and PC strategies, enforcing standards, creating a PS and PC culture, increasing organizational responsiveness, and partnering with patients and their families need more attention.
Italy has a population of 60 million and a universal coverage single-payer healthcare system, which mandates collection of healthcare administrative data in a uniform fashion throughout the country. On the other hand, organization of the health system takes place at the regional level, and local initiatives generate natural experiments. This is happening in particular in primary care, due to the need to face the growing burden of chronic diseases. Health services research can compare and evaluate local initiatives on the basis of the common healthcare administrative data.However reliability of such data in this context needs to be assessed, especially when comparing different regions of the country. In this paper we investigated the validity of healthcare administrative databases to compute indicators of compliance with standards of care for diabetes, ischaemic heart disease (IHD) and heart failure (HF).
We compared indicators estimated from healthcare administrative data collected by Local Health Authorities in five Italian regions with corresponding estimates from clinical data collected by General Practitioners (GPs). Four indicators of diagnostic follow-up (two for diabetes, one for IHD and one for HF) and four indicators of appropriate therapy (two each for IHD and HF) were considered.
Agreement between the two data sources was very good, except for indicators of laboratory diagnostic follow-up in one region and for the indicator of bioimaging diagnostic follow-up in all regions, where measurement with administrative data underestimated quality.
According to evidence presented in this study, estimating compliance with standards of care for diabetes, ischaemic heart disease and heart failure from healthcare databases is likely to produce reliable results, even though completeness of data on diagnostic procedures should be assessed first. Performing studies comparing regions using such indicators as outcomes is a promising development with potential to improve quality governance in the Italian healthcare system.
Introduction and Objective
This paper provides an overview of the DUQuE (Deepening our Understanding of Quality Improvement in Europe) project, the first study across multiple countries of the European Union (EU) to assess relationships between quality management and patient outcomes at EU level. The paper describes the conceptual framework and methods applied, highlighting the novel features of this study.
DUQuE was designed as a multi-level cross-sectional study with data collection at hospital, pathway, professional and patient level in eight countries.
Setting and Participants
We aimed to collect data for the assessment of hospital-wide constructs from up to 30 randomly selected hospitals in each country, and additional data at pathway and patient level in 12 of these 30.
Main outcome measures
A comprehensive conceptual framework was developed to account for the multiple levels that influence hospital performance and patient outcomes. We assessed hospital-specific constructs (organizational culture and professional involvement), clinical pathway constructs (the organization of care processes for acute myocardial infarction, stroke, hip fracture and deliveries), patient-specific processes and outcomes (clinical effectiveness, patient safety and patient experience) and external constructs that could modify hospital quality (external assessment and perceived external pressure).
Data was gathered from 188 hospitals in 7 participating countries. The overall participation and response rate were between 75% and 100% for the assessed measures.
This is the first study assessing relation between quality management and patient outcomes at EU level. The study involved a large number of respondents and achieved high response rates. This work will serve to develop guidance in how to assess quality management and makes recommendations on the best ways to improve quality in healthcare for hospital stakeholders, payers, researchers, and policy makers throughout the EU.
quality management systems; clinical indicators; clinical effectiveness; quality of healthcare; hospitals; cross-national research; patient outcomes
Clinical management is hypothesized to be critical for hospital management and hospital performance. The aims of this study were to develop and validate professional involvement scales for measuring the level of clinical management by physicians and nurses in European hospitals.
Testing of validity and reliability of scales derived from a questionnaire of 21 items was developed on the basis of a previous study and expert opinion and administered in a cross-sectional seven-country research project ‘Deepening our Understanding of Quality improvement in Europe’ (DUQuE).
Setting and Participants
A sample of 3386 leading physicians and nurses working in 188 hospitals located in Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Turkey.
Main Outcome Measures
Validity and reliability of professional involvement scales and subscales.
Psychometric analysis yielded four subscales for leading physicians: (i) Administration and budgeting, (ii) Managing medical practice, (iii) Strategic management and (iv) Managing nursing practice. Only the first three factors applied well to the nurses. Cronbach's alpha for internal consistency ranged from 0.74 to 0.86 for the physicians, and from 0.61 to 0.81 for the nurses. Except for the 0.74 correlation between ‘Administration and budgeting’ and ‘Managing medical practice’ among physicians, all inter-scale correlations were <0.70 (range 0.43–0.61). Under testing for construct validity, the subscales were positively correlated with ‘formal management roles’ of physicians and nurses.
The professional involvement scales appear to yield reliable and valid data in European hospital settings, but the scale ‘Managing medical practice’ for nurses needs further exploration. The measurement instrument can be used for international research on clinical management.
clinical management; professional involvement; quality systems; hospital management
The objective of this study was to describe the involvement of patients or their representatives in quality management (QM) functions and to assess associations between levels of involvement and the implementation of patient-centred care strategies.
A cross-sectional, multilevel study design that surveyed quality managers and department heads and data from an organizational audit.
Randomly selected hospitals (n = 74) from seven European countries (The Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Turkey).
Hospital quality managers (n = 74) and heads of clinical departments (n = 262) in charge of four patient pathways (acute myocardial infarction, stroke, hip fracture and deliveries) participated in the data collection between May 2011 and February 2012.
Main Outcome Measures
Four items reflecting essential patient-centred care strategies based on an on-site hospital visit: (1) formal survey seeking views of patients and carers, (2) written policies on patients' rights, (3) patient information literature including guidelines and (4) fact sheets for post-discharge care. The main predictors were patient involvement in QM at the (i) hospital level and (ii) pathway level.
Current levels of involving patients and their representatives in QM functions in European hospitals are low at hospital level (mean score 1.6 on a scale of 0 to 5, SD 0.7), but even lower at departmental level (mean 0.6, SD 0.7). We did not detect associations between levels of involving patients and their representatives in QM functions and the implementation of patient-centred care strategies; however, the smallest hospitals were more likely to have implemented patient-centred care strategies.
There is insufficient evidence that involving patients and their representatives in QM leads to establishing or implementing strategies and procedures that facilitate patient-centred care; however, lack of evidence should not be interpreted as evidence of no effect.
quality management; quality measurement; patient-centred care; hospital care, hospital, patient involvement
To define a checklist that can be used to assess the performance of a department and evaluate the implementation of quality management (QM) activities across departments or pathways in acute care hospitals.
We developed and tested a checklist for the assessment of QM activities at department level in a cross-sectional study using on-site visits by trained external auditors.
Setting and participants
A sample of 292 hospital departments of 74 acute care hospitals across seven European countries. In every hospital, four departments for the conditions: acute myocardial infarction (AMI), stroke, hip fracture and deliveries participated.
Main Outcome Measures
Four measures of QM activities were evaluated at care pathway level focusing on specialized expertise and responsibility (SER), evidence-based organization of pathways (EBOP), patient safety strategies and clinical review (CR).
Participating departments attained mean values on the various scales between 1.2 and 3.7. The theoretical range was 0–4. Three of the four QM measures are identical for the four conditions, whereas one scale (EBOP) has condition-specific items. Correlations showed that every factor was related, but also distinct, and added to the overall picture of QM at pathway level.
The newly developed checklist can be used across various types of departments and pathways in acute care hospitals like AMI, deliveries, stroke and hip fracture. The anticipated users of the checklist are internal (e.g. peers within the hospital and hospital executive board) and external auditors (e.g. healthcare inspectorate, professional or patient organizations).
quality improvement; quality management; external quality assessment; measurement of quality; surgery; professions; hospital care
The assessment of integral quality management (QM) in a hospital requires measurement and monitoring from different perspectives and at various levels of care delivery. Within the DUQuE project (Deepening our Understanding of Quality improvement in Europe), seven measures for QM were developed. This study investigates the relationships between the various quality measures.
It is a multi-level, cross-sectional, mixed-method study.
Setting and Participants
As part of the DUQuE project, we invited a random sample of 74 hospitals in 7 countries. The quality managers of these hospitals were the main respondents. Furthermore, data of site visits of external surveyors assessing the participating hospitals were used.
Main Outcome Measures
Three measures of QM at hospitals level focusing on integral systems (QMSI), compliance with the Plan-Do-Study-Act quality improvement cycle (QMCI) and implementation of clinical quality (CQII). Four measures of QM activities at care pathway level focusing on Specialized expertise and responsibility (SER), Evidence-based organization of pathways (EBOP), Patient safety strategies (PSS) and Clinical review (CR).
Positive significant associations were found between the three hospitals level QM measures. Results of the relationships between levels were mixed and showed most associations between QMCI and department-level QM measures for all four types of departments. QMSI was associated with PSS in all types of departments.
By using the seven measures of QM, it is possible to get a more comprehensive picture of the maturity of QM in hospitals, with regard to the different levels and across various types of hospital departments.
quality management; quality improvement; external quality assessment; measurement of quality; organization science, healthcare system; patient safety; hospital care
To investigate the relationship between ISO 9001 certification, healthcare accreditation and quality management in European hospitals.
A mixed method multi-level cross-sectional design in seven countries. External teams assessed clinical services on the use of quality management systems, illustrated by four clinical pathways.
Setting and Participants
Seventy-three acute care hospitals with a total of 291 services managing acute myocardial infarction (AMI), hip fracture, stroke and obstetric deliveries, in Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Turkey.
Main Outcome Measure
Four composite measures of quality and safety [specialized expertise and responsibility (SER), evidence-based organization of pathways (EBOP), patient safety strategies (PSS) and clinical review (CR)] applied to four pathways.
Accreditation in isolation showed benefits in AMI and stroke more than in deliveries and hip fracture; the greatest significant association was with CR in stroke. Certification in isolation showed little benefit in AMI but had more positive association with the other conditions; greatest significant association was in PSS with stroke. The combination of accreditation and certification showed least benefit in EBOP, but significant benefits in SER (AMI), in PSS (AMI, hip fracture and stroke) and in CR (AMI and stroke).
Accreditation and certification are positively associated with clinical leadership, systems for patient safety and clinical review, but not with clinical practice. Both systems promote structures and processes, which support patient safety and clinical organization but have limited effect on the delivery of evidence-based patient care. Further analysis of DUQuE data will explore the association of certification and accreditation with clinical outcomes.
accreditation; certification; health care quality assessment; quality management; patient safety
To improve the international comparability of patient safety indicators based on administrative hospital data, adjustment of country-specific rates by a proxy measure of diagnostic coding intensity was tested.
Secondary data (numerator and denominator counts of patient safety indicators) based on adults discharged from acute care hospitals between 2006 and 2008 was used.
A retrospective cross-sectional study using hospital administrative data was performed.
Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States provided data according to detailed instructions.
Age- and sex-standardized rates varied across countries. An ordinary least squares regression model was estimated for each Patient Safety Indicator (PSI) using the mean number of secondary diagnoses among denominator cases as the predictor (R2=23 percent to 56 percent). Estimated country-specific residuals were linearly transformed into adjusted PSI rates. Variation among age–sex standardized PSI rates decreased substantially after this adjustment.
International comparisons of health system performance based on unadjusted patient safety indicators are problematic due to suspected coding or ascertainment bias. The model could be an interim approach to provide comparable information on hospital quality, with a long-term goal of improving international consistency in diagnostic reporting in administrative data.
Patient safety; quality indicators; international classification of diseases
This study examines the perspectives of a range of key hospital staff on the use, importance, scientific background, availability of data, feasibility of data collection, cost benefit aspects and availability of professional personnel for measurement of quality indicators among Iranian hospitals. The study aims to facilitate the use of quality indicators to improve quality of care in hospitals.
A cross-sectional study was conducted over the period 2009 to 2010. Staff at Iranian hospitals completed a self-administered questionnaire eliciting their views on organizational, clinical process, and outcome (clinical effectiveness, patient safety and patient centeredness) indicators.
93 hospital frontline staff including hospital/nursing managers, medical doctors, nurses, and quality improvement/medical records officers in 48 general and specialized hospitals in Iran.
On average, only 69% of respondents reported using quality indicators in practice at their affiliated hospitals. Respondents varied significantly in their reported use of organizational, clinical process and outcome quality indicators. Overall, clinical process and effectiveness indicators were reported to be least used. The reported use of indicators corresponded with their perceived level of importance. Quality indicators were reported to be used among clinical staff significantly more than among managerial staff. In total, 74% of the respondents reported to use obligatory indicators, while this was 68% for voluntary indicators (p<0.05).
There is a general awareness of the importance and usability of quality indicators among hospital staff in Iran, but their use is currently mostly directed towards external accountability purposes. To increase the formative use of quality indicators, creation of a common culture and feeling of shared ownership, alongside an increased uptake of clinical process and effectiveness indicators is needed to support internal quality improvement processes at hospital level.
In 2006, the first edition of a monitoring tool for the performance of the Dutch health care system was released: the Dutch Health Care Performance Report (DHCPR). The Netherlands was among the first countries in the world developing such a comprehensive tool for reporting performance on quality, access, and affordability of health care. The tool contains 125 performance indicators; the choice for specific indicators resulted from a dialogue between researchers and policy makers. In the ‘policy cycle’, the DHCPR can rationally be placed between evaluation (accountability) and agenda-setting (for strategic decision making). In this paper, we reflect on important lessons learned after seven years of health care system performance assessment. These lessons entail the importance of a good conceptual framework for health system performance assessment, the importance of repeated measurement, the strength of combining multiple perspectives (e.g., patient, professional, objective, subjective) on the same issue, the importance of a central role for the patients’ perspective in performance assessment, how to deal with the absence of data in relevant domains, the value of international benchmarking and the continuous exchange between researchers and policy makers.
Health care; Health system performance assessment; Performance indicators
For health care performance indicators (PIs) to be reliable, data underlying the PIs are required to be complete, accurate, consistent and reproducible. Given the lack of regulation of the data-systems used in the Netherlands, and the self-report based indicator scores, one would expect heterogeneity with respect to the data collection and the ways indicators are computed. This might affect the reliability and plausibility of the nationally reported scores.
We aimed to investigate the extent to which local hospital data collection and indicator computation strategies differ and how this affects the plausibility of self-reported indicator scores, using survey results of 42 hospitals and data of the Dutch national quality database.
The data collection and indicator computation strategies of the hospitals were substantially heterogenic. Moreover, the Hip and Knee replacement PI scores can be regarded as largely implausible, which was, to a great extent, related to a limited (computerized) data registry. In contrast, Breast Cancer PI scores were more plausible, despite the incomplete data registry and limited data access. This might be explained by the role of the regional cancer centers that collect most of the indicator data for the national cancer registry, in a standardized manner. Hospitals can use cancer registry indicator scores to report to the government, instead of their own locally collected indicator scores.
Indicator developers, users and the scientific field need to focus more on the underlying (heterogenic) ways of data collection and conditional data infrastructures. Countries that have a liberal software market and are aiming to implement a self-report based performance indicator system to obtain health care transparency, should secure the accuracy and precision of the heath care data from which the PIs are calculated. Moreover, ongoing research and development of PIs and profound insight in the clinical practice of data registration is warranted.
Performance indicators; Health care quality; Reliability; Hospital information system
Healthcare systems are challenged by a demand that exceeds available resources. One policy to meet this challenge is task substitution-transferring tasks to other professions and settings. Our study aimed to explore stakeholders’ perceived feasibility of transferring hospital-based monitoring of stable glaucoma patients to primary care optometrists.
A case study was undertaken in the Rotterdam Eye Hospital (REH) using semi-structured interviews and document reviews. They were inductively analysed using three implementation related theoretical perspectives: sociological theories on professionalism, management theories, and applied political analysis.
Currently it is not feasible to use primary care optometrists as substitutes for optometrists and ophthalmic technicians working in a hospital-based glaucoma follow-up unit (GFU). Respondents’ narratives revealed that: the glaucoma specialists’ sense of urgency for task substitution outside the hospital diminished after establishing a GFU that satisfied their professionalization needs; the return on investments were unclear; and reluctant key stakeholders with strong power positions blocked implementation. The window of opportunity that existed for task substitution in person and setting in 1999 closed with the institutionalization of the GFU.
Transferring the monitoring of stable glaucoma patients to primary care optometrists in Rotterdam did not seem feasible. The main reasons were the lack of agreement on professional boundaries and work domains, the institutionalization of the GFU in the REH, and the absence of an appropriate reimbursement system. Policy makers considering substituting tasks to other professionals should carefully think about the implementation process, especially in a two-step implementation process (substitution in person and in setting) such as this case. Involving the substituting professionals early on to ensure all stakeholders see the change as a normal step in the professionalization of the substituting professionals is essential, as is implementing the task substitution within the window of opportunity.
Diffusion of innovation; Access to health care; Quality of health care
The development and use of performance indicators (PI) in the field of public mental health care (PMHC) has increased rapidly in the last decade. To gain insight in the current state of PI for PMHC in nations and regions around the world, we conducted a structured review of publications in scientific peer-reviewed journals supplemented by a systematic inventory of PI published in policy documents by (non-) governmental organizations.
Publications on PI for PMHC were identified through database- and internet searches. Final selection was based on review of the full content of the publications. Publications were ordered by nation or region and chronologically. Individual PI were classified by development method, assessment level, care domain, performance dimension, diagnostic focus, and data source. Finally, the evidence on feasibility, data reliability, and content-, criterion-, and construct validity of the PI was evaluated.
A total of 106 publications were included in the sample. The majority of the publications (n = 65) were peer-reviewed journal articles and 66 publications specifically dealt with performance of PMHC in the United States. The objectives of performance measurement vary widely from internal quality improvement to increasing transparency and accountability. The characteristics of 1480 unique PI were assessed. The majority of PI is based on stakeholder opinion, assesses care processes, is not specific to any diagnostic group, and utilizes administrative data sources. The targeted quality dimensions varied widely across and within nations depending on local professional or political definitions and interests. For all PI some evidence for the content validity and feasibility has been established. Data reliability, criterion- and construct validity have rarely been assessed. Only 18 publications on criterion validity were included. These show significant associations in the expected direction on the majority of PI, but mixed results on a noteworthy number of others.
PI have been developed for a broad range of care levels, domains, and quality dimensions of PMHC. To ensure their usefulness for the measurement of PMHC performance and advancement of transparency, accountability and quality improvement in PMHC, future research should focus on assessment of the psychometric properties of PI.
Can Europeans be confident about the quality of care received in another EU country? Helena Legido-Quigley and colleagues discuss the various mechanisms at work across Europe to ensure quality and safety
This study examined the experience of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in enhancing its stewardship and performance management role by developing a health system strategy map and a strategy-based scorecard through a process of policy reviews and expert consultations, and linking them to accountability agreements. An evaluation of the implementation and of the effects of the policy intervention has been carried out through direct policy observation over three years, document analysis, interviews with decision-makers and systematic discussion of findings with other authors and external reviewers. Cascading strategies at health and local health system levels were identified, and a core set of health system and local health system performance indicators was selected and incorporated into accountability agreements with the Local Health Integration Networks. despite the persistence of such challenges as measurement limitations and lack of systematic linkage to decision-making processes, these activities helped to strengthen substantially the ministry's performance management function.
Population aging increases the number of glaucoma patients which leads to higher workloads of glaucoma specialists. If stable glaucoma patients were monitored by optometrists and ophthalmic technicians in a glaucoma follow-up unit (GFU) rather than by glaucoma specialists, the specialists' workload and waiting lists might be reduced.
We compared costs and quality of care at the GFU with those of usual care by glaucoma specialists in the Rotterdam Eye Hospital (REH) in a 30-month randomized clinical trial. Because quality of care turned out to be similar, we focus here on the costs.
Stable glaucoma patients were randomized between the GFU and the glaucoma specialist group. Costs per patient year were calculated from four perspectives: those of patients, the Rotterdam Eye Hospital (REH), Dutch healthcare system, and society. The outcome measures were: compliance to the protocol; patient satisfaction; stability according to the practitioner; mean difference in IOP; results of the examinations; and number of treatment changes.
Baseline characteristics (such as age, intraocular pressure and target pressure) were comparable between the GFU group (n = 410) and the glaucoma specialist group (n = 405).
Despite a higher number of visits per year, mean hospital costs per patient year were lower in the GFU group (€139 vs. €161). Patients' time and travel costs were similar. Healthcare costs were significantly lower for the GFU group (€230 vs. €251), as were societal costs (€310 vs. €339) (p < 0.01). Bootstrap-, sensitivity- and scenario-analyses showed that the costs were robust when varying hospital policy and the duration of visits and tests.
We conclude that this GFU is cost-effective and deserves to be considered for implementation in other hospitals.
Hospitals in European countries apply a wide range of quality improvement strategies. Knowledge of the effectiveness of these strategies, implemented as part of an overall hospital quality improvement system, is limited.
We propose to study the relationships among organisational quality improvement systems, patient empowerment, organisational culture, professionals' involvement with the quality of hospital care, including clinical effectiveness, patient safety and patient involvement. We will employ a cross-sectional, multi-level study design in which patient-level measurements are nested in hospital departments, which are in turn nested in hospitals in different EU countries. Mixed methods will be used for data collection, measurement and analysis. Hospital/care pathway level constructs that will be assessed include external pressure, hospital governance, quality improvement system, patient empowerment in quality improvement, organisational culture and professional involvement. These constructs will be assessed using questionnaires. Patient-level constructs include clinical effectiveness, patient safety and patient involvement, and will be assessed using audit of patient records, routine data and patient surveys. For the assessment of hospital and pathway level constructs we will collect data from randomly selected hospitals in eight countries. For a sample of hospitals in each country we will carry out additional data collection at patient-level related to four conditions (stroke, acute myocardial infarction, hip fracture and delivery). In addition, structural components of quality improvement systems will be assessed using visits by experienced external assessors. Data analysis will include descriptive statistics and graphical representations and methods for data reduction, classification techniques and psychometric analysis, before moving to bi-variate and multivariate analysis. The latter will be conducted at hospital and multilevel. In addition, we will apply sophisticated methodological elements such as the use of causal diagrams, outcome modelling, double robust estimation and detailed sensitivity analysis or multiple bias analyses to assess the impact of the various sources of bias.
Products of the project will include a catalogue of instruments and tools that can be used to build departmental or hospital quality and safety programme and an appraisal scheme to assess the maturity of the quality improvement system for use by hospitals and by purchasers to contract hospitals.
The CQ Index for the elderly, a quality-of-care questionnaire administered by conducting interviews, is used to assess clients' experiences in Dutch nursing homes and homes for the elderly. This article describes whether inter-interviewer differences influence the perceived quality of healthcare services reported by residents, the size of this interviewer effect and the influence of the interviewer characteristics on CQ Index dimensions for public reporting.
Data from 4345 questionnaires was used. Correlations were calculated, reliability analyses were performed, and a multilevel analysis was used to calculate the degree of correlation between two interviewers within one health care institution. Five models were constructed and the Intra Class Correlation (ICC) was calculated. Healthcare institutions were given 1-5 stars on every quality dimensions (1 = worst and 5 = best), adjusted for resident and interviewer characteristics. The effect of these characteristics on the assignment of the stars was investigated.
In a multilevel approach, the ICC showed a significant amount of variance on five quality dimensions. Of the interviewer characteristics, only previous interviewing experience, the reason of interviewing and general knowledge of health care had a significant effect on the quality dimensions. Adjusting for interviewer characteristics did not affect the overall star assignment to the institutions regarding 7 of 12 quality dimensions. For the other five dimensions (Shared decision-making, Meals, Professional competency, Autonomy, and Availability of personnel) a minor effect was found.
We have shown that training, the use of experienced interviewers, written instructions, supervision and educational meetings do not automatically prevent interviewer effects. While the results of this study can be used to improve the quality of services provided by these institutions, several CQ index dimensions should be interpreted with caution for external purposes (accountability and transparency).
Adequate support for homeless populations includes shelter and care to recuperate from illness and/or injury. This is a descriptive analysis of diagnoses and use of shelter-based convalescence in a cohort of homeless adults in Amsterdam.
Demographics of ill homeless adults, diagnoses, referral pattern, length of stay, discharge locations, and mortality, were collected by treating physicians during outreach care provision in a shelter-based convalescence care facility in Amsterdam, from January 2001 through October 2007.
629 individuals accounted for 889 admissions to the convalescence care facility. 83% were male and 53% were born in the Netherlands. The mean age was 45 years (SD 10 years). The primary physical problems were skin disorders (37%), respiratory disorders (33%), digestive disorders (24%) and musculoskeletal disorders (21%). Common chronic conditions included addictions 78%, mental health disorders 20%, HIV/AIDS 11% and liver cirrhosis 5%. Referral sources were self-referred (18%), general hospitals (21%) and drug clinics (27%). The median length of stay was 20 days. After (self)discharge, 63% went back to the previous circumstances, 10% obtained housing, and 23% went to a medical or nursing setting. By March 2008, one in seven users (n = 83; 13%) were known to have died, the Standard Mortality Ratio was 7.5 (95% CI: 4.1-13.5). Over the years, fewer men were admitted, with significantly more self neglect, personality disorders and cocaine use. Lengths of stay increased significantly during the study period.
Over the last years, the shelter-based convalescence care facility users were mainly homeless single males, around 45 years of age, with chronic problems due to substance use, mental health disorders and a frail physical condition, many of whom died a premature death. The facility has been flexible and responsive to the needs of the users and services available.
The professional organization of medical work no longer reflects the changing health needs caused by the growing number of complex and chronically ill patients. Key stakeholders enforce coordination and remove power from the medical professions in order allow for these changes. However, it may also be necessary to initiate basic changes to way in which the medical professionals work in order to adapt to the changing health needs.
Medical leaders, supported by health policy makers, can consciously activate the self-regulatory capacity of medical professionalism in order to transform the medical profession and the related professional processes of care so that it can adapt to the changing health needs. In doing so, they would open up additional routes to the improvement of the health services system and to health improvement. This involves three consecutive steps: (1) defining and categorizing the health needs of the population; (2) reorganizing the specialty domains around the needs of population groups; (3) reorganizing the specialty domains by eliminating work that could be done by less educated personnel or by the patients themselves. We suggest seven strategies that are required in order to achieve this transformation.
Changing medical professionalism to fit the changing health needs will not be easy. It will need strong leadership. But, if the medical world does not embark on this endeavour, good doctoring will become merely a bureaucratic and/or marketing exercise that obscures the ultimate goal of medicine which is to optimize the health of both individuals and the entire population.
To improve homelessness prevention practice, we met with recently homeless adults, to explore their pathways into homelessness, problems and service use, before and after becoming homeless.
Recently homeless adults (last housing lost up to two years ago and legally staying in the Netherlands) were sampled in the streets, day centres and overnight shelters in Amsterdam. In April and May 2004, students conducted interviews and collected data on demographics, self reported pathways into homelessness, social and medical problems, and service use, before and after becoming homeless.
among 120 recently homeless adults, (male 88%, Dutch 50%, average age 38 years, mean duration of homelessness 23 weeks), the main reported pathways into homelessness were evictions 38%, relationship problems 35%, prison 6% and other reasons 22%. Compared to the relationship group, the eviction group was slightly older (average age 39.6 versus 35.5 years; p = 0.08), belonged more often to a migrant group (p = 0.025), and reported more living single (p < 0,001), more financial debts (p = 0.009), more alcohol problems (p = 0.048) and more contacts with debt control services (p = 0.009). The relationship group reported more domestic conflicts (p < 0.001) and tended to report more drug (cocaine) problems. Before homelessness, in the total group, contacts with any social service were 38% and with any medical service 27%. Despite these contacts they did not keep their house. During homelessness only contacts with social work and benefit agencies increased, contacts with medical services remained low.
the recently homeless fit the overall profile of the homeless population in Amsterdam: single (Dutch) men, around 40 years, with a mix of financial debts, addiction, mental and/or physical health problems. Contacts with services were fragmented and did not prevent homelessness. For homelessness prevention, systematic and outreach social medical care before and during homelessness should be provided.
The Ontario health care system is devolving planning and funding authority to community based organizations and moving from steering through rules and regulations to steering on performance. As part of this transformation, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) are interested in using incentives as a strategy to ensure alignment – that is, health service providers' goals are in accord with the goals of the health system. The objective of the study was to develop a decision framework to assist policymakers in choosing and designing effective incentive systems.
The first part of the study was an extensive review of the literature to identify incentives models that are used in the various health care systems and their effectiveness. The second part was the development of policy principles to ensure that the used incentive models are congruent with the values of the Ontario health care system. The principles were developed by reviewing the Ontario policy documents and through discussions with policymakers. The validation of the principles and the suggested incentive models for use in Ontario took place at two meetings. The first meeting was with experts from the research and policy community, the second with senior policymakers from the MOHLTC. Based on the outcome of those two meetings, the researchers built a decision framework for incentives. The framework was send to the participants of both meetings and four additional experts for validation.
We identified several models that have proven, with a varying degree of evidence, to be effective in changing or enabling a health provider's performance. Overall, the literature suggests that there is no single best approach to create incentives yet and the ability of financial and non-financial incentives to achieve results depends on a number of contextual elements. After assessing the initial set of incentive models on their congruence with the four policy principles we defined nine incentive models to be appropriate for use in Ontario and potentially other health care systems that want to introduce incentives to improve performance. Subsequently, the models were incorporated in the resulting decision framework.
The design of an incentive must reflect the values and goals of the health care system, be well matched to the performance objectives and reflect a range of contextual factors that can influence the effectiveness of even well-designed incentives. As a consequence, a single policy recommendation around incentives is inappropriate. The decision framework provides health care policymakers and purchasers with a tool to support the selection of an incentive model that is the most appropriate to improve the targeted performance.