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Hybrid practices as a means to implement quality improvement: A comparative qualitative study in a Dutch and Swedish hospital

Quartz-Topp, Julia; Sanne, Johan M.; Pöstges, Heide

doi: 10.1097/HMR.0000000000000135

Background: Managers and scholars commonly perceive resistance from professionals as hampering the implementation of quality improvement (QI) and refer to the incompatibility of clinical and managerial approaches to QI as a reason. Yet a growing body of research indicates that, in practice, these two approaches rather blend into hybrid practices that embody different types of QI-related knowledge and values. This opens up a new perspective on implementation challenges that moves attention away from resistance against managerial QI toward difficulties for clinicians to draw together different types of knowledge and values within their clinical work. So far, little is known about how managers can support clinicians to generate hybrid QI practices.

Purpose: The aim of this study was to deepen our understanding of how managers can support the generation of hybrid practices that help clinicians to integrate QI into their everyday work.

Methodology/Approach: We draw on comparative qualitative research including 21 semistructured interviews, documentary analysis, and participant observation that we conducted in one Dutch and one Swedish hospital over a period of 8 months in 2011/2012.

Results: Hospital managers designed hybrid forums, tools, and professional roles in order to facilitate the integration of different QI practices, knowledge, and values. This integration generated new hybrid practices and an infrastructure for QI that has potential to support clinicians in their efforts to align different demands.

Practice Implications: New opportunities to implement QI emerge when we change the implementation problem from clinical resistance to the need of support for clinicians to develop hybrid QI practices. Hospital managers then have to intentionally organize for the generation of hybrid practices by designing, for example, hybrid forums, tools, and professional roles that integrate different knowledge and values in a nonhierarchical way.

Julia Quartz-Topp, PhD, is Lecturer, Science and Technology Studies for Development, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University, The Netherlands. E-mail:

Johan M. Sanne, PhD, is Associate Professor and Senior Consultant, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

Heide Pöstges, MSc, is Honorary Research Fellow, Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, Kingston University and St. George’s University of London, United Kingdom.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationship with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

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