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Effective quality systems for quality improvement

Our systems for quality improvement in health and aged care may deliver compliance but they don't necessarily deliver high quality

Here’s a paper worth reading if you are interested in the implementation of effective quality systems in Australian public hospitals. Leggat and Balding (2018) conducted an extensive review of the literature on quality improvement. They identified seven components of quality systems associated with quality improvement. The authors then reviewed the current state of those components in a sample of eight hospitals. They found none of the eight hospitals had all seven of these components in place.

In seeking to understand this result, the authors made a number of interesting findings. For example, many hospital informants indicated their primary drivers for quality improvement were compliance-related or incidents of patient harm. Both managers and clinical staff noted this focus drives a reactive approach to quality and safety. In this approach, the quality system is a collection of rules for compliance, rather than a system to guarantee high quality service delivery. Another interesting finding was the significant disconnect between Boards/senior managers and frontline staff in their perceptions on quality improvement.

The need for new approaches to quality improvement

This paper adds more weight to the notion that new approaches to quality in health and aged care are needed. Indeed, the team here at MEERQAT have been working to develop tools that help hospitals and aged care services implement effective systems for quality improvement, by moving away from the reactive, compliance-focussed approach. With MEERQAT, quality improvement involves reflection on routine practices, rather than as a response to something that has gone wrong. MEERQAT also helps all levels of the organisation – from Boards and senior managers through to frontline teams – to develop a shared understanding of ‘work as done’. This provides a strong foundation for developing shared purpose when it comes to quality and safety.

For health and aged care services looking for an approach to quality improvement that is not just more of the same, check out MEERQAT. We have new tools for the NSQHS 2nd Edition Standards, as well as tools for aged care standards.

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