Large-scale improvement initiatives in healthcare: a scan of the literature

J Healthc Qual. 2013 Jan-Feb;35(1):30-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1945-1474.2011.00164.x. Epub 2011 Sep 14.


Context: The goal of this article is to provide a succinct scan of the literature as it relates to the current thinking and practice in large-scale improvement initiatives in healthcare.

Method: We employed a scan of the literature using a modified Delphi technique. A standard review form was used. The scan was limited to large-scale spread efforts in hospitals and healthcare systems. Each of the main factors that emerged during the scan was linked to secondary factors and organized using a driver diagram.

Findings: Four primary drivers (factors) emerged during our scan that inform large-scale change initiatives in healthcare: Planning and Infrastructure; Individual, Group, Organizational, and System Factors; The Process of Change; and Performance Measures and Evaluation.

Conclusion: Our scan identified a tremendous amount of work being done around the world to improve healthcare. In general, our findings suggest these initiatives tend to be fragmented from an implementation standpoint. We identified primary and secondary drivers (factors) that can be used by those responsible for implementing large-scale improvement initiatives both at a strategy level and in their daily work. These drivers could serve as a "checklist" of ideas to consider in different testing and implementation situations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends
  • Delphi Technique
  • Education, Continuing / methods
  • Education, Continuing / trends
  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Global Health
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Health Resources / standards*
  • Health Resources / trends
  • Humans
  • Organizational Culture
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Quality Improvement / organization & administration
  • Quality Improvement / standards*
  • Quality Improvement / trends
  • Social Networking