Restructuring within an academic health center to support quality and safety: the development of the Center for Quality and Safety at the Massachusetts General Hospital

Acad Med. 2009 Dec;84(12):1663-71. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181bfd09b.


Recent focus on the need to improve the quality and safety of health care has created new challenges for academic health centers (AHCs). Whereas previously quality was largely assumed, today it is increasingly quantifiable and requires organized systems for improvement. Traditional structures and cultures within AHCs, although well suited to the tripartite missions of teaching, research, and clinical care, are not easily adaptable to the tasks of measuring, reporting, and improving quality. Here, the authors use a case study of Massachusetts General Hospital's efforts to restructure quality and safety to illustrate the value of beginning with a focus on organizational culture, using a systematic process of engaging clinical leadership, developing an organizational framework dependent on proven business principles, leveraging focus events, and maintaining executive dedication to execution of the initiative. The case provides a generalizable example for AHCs of how applying explicit management design can foster robust organizational change with relatively modest incremental financial resources.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers / organization & administration*
  • Boston
  • Hospitals, General / organization & administration
  • Hospitals, Teaching / organization & administration
  • Hospitals, Urban / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Organizational Culture
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Program Development
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Safety Management / organization & administration*