A case study of a whole system approach to improvement in an acute hospital setting
Ward, Marie E.
Teeling, Sean Paul
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Ward, M.E., Daly, A., McNamara, M., Garvey, S. and Teeling, S.P. (2022) 'A case study of a whole system approach to improvement in an acute hospital setting', International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(3), article no. e1246.
Changes in healthcare tend to be project-based with whole system change, which acknowledges the interconnectedness of socio-technical factors, not the norm. This paper attempts to address the question of whole system change posed by the special issue and brings together other research presented in this special issue. A case study approach was adopted to understand the deployment of a whole system change in the acute hospital setting along four dimensions of a socio-technical systems framework: culture, system functioning, action, and sense-making. The case study demonstrates evidence of whole system improvement. The approach to change was co-designed by staff and management, projects involving staff from all specialities and levels of seniority were linked to each other and to the strategic objectives of the organisation, and learnings from first-generation projects have been passed to second and third-generation process improvements. The socio-technical systems framework was used retrospectively to assess the system change but could also be used prospectively to help healthcare organisations develop approaches to whole system improvement.