, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 715-722
Date: 15 Jan 2014

The Association of Hospital Characteristics and Quality Improvement Activities in Inpatient Medical Services

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ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND

Quality of U.S. health care has been the focus of increasing attention, with deficiencies in patient care well recognized and documented. However, relatively little is known about the extent to which hospitals engage in quality improvement activities (QIAs) or factors influencing extent of QIAs.

OBJECTIVE

To identify 1) the extent of QIAs in Veterans Administration (VA) inpatient medical services; and 2) factors associated with widespread adoption of QIAs, in particular use of hospitalists, non-physician providers, and extent of goal alignment between the inpatient service and senior managers on commitment to quality.

DESIGN

Cross-sectional, descriptive study of QIAs using a survey administered to Chiefs of Medicine (COM) at all 124 VA acute care hospitals. We conducted hierarchical regression, regressing QIA use on facility contextual variables, followed by use of hospitalists, non-physician providers, and goal alignment/quality commitment.

MAIN MEASURES

Outcome measures pertained to use of a set of 27 QIAs and to three dimensions—infrastructure, prevention, and information gathering—that were identified by factor analysis among the 27 QIAs overall.

KEY RESULTS

Survey response rate was 90 % (111/124). Goal alignment/quality commitment was associated with more widespread use of all four QIA categories [infrastructure (b = 0.42; p < 0.001); prevention (b = 0.24; p < 0.001); information gathering (b = 0.28; p = <0.001); and overall QIA (b = 0.31; p < 0.001)], as was greater use of hospitalists [infrastructure (b = 0.55; p = 0.03); prevention (b = 0.61; p < 0.001); information gathering (b = 0.75; p = 0.01); and overall QIAs (b = 0.61; p < 0.001)]; higher occupancy rate was associated with greater infrastructure QIAs (b = 1.05, p = 0.02). Non-physician provider use, hospital size, university affiliation, and geographic region were not associated with QIAs.

CONCLUSION

As hospitals respond to changes in healthcare (e.g., pay for performance, accountable care organizations), this study suggests that practices such as use of hospitalists and leadership focus on goal alignment/quality commitment may lead to greater implementation of QIAs.