Patient safety and safety culture have received increasing attention from agencies such as the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality and the Institute of Medicine. Safety culture refers to the fundamental values, attitudes, and perceptions that provide a unique source of competitive advantage to improve performance. This study contributes to the literature and expands understanding of safety culture and hospital performance outcomes when considering electronic health record (EHR) usage.
Based on the resource-based view of the firm, this study examined the association between safety culture and hospital quality and financial performance in the presence of EHR.
Data consist of the 2016 Hospital Survey on Patient Safety, Hospital Compare, American Hospital Association’s annual survey, and the American Hospital Association’s Information Technology supplement. Our final analytic sample consisted of 154 hospitals. We used a two-part nested regression model approach.
Safety culture has a direct positive relationship with financial performance (operating margin). Furthermore, having basic EHR as compared to not having EHR further enhances this positive relationship. On the other hand, safety culture does not have a direct association with quality performance (readmissions) in most cases. However, safety culture coupled with basic EHR functionalities, compared to not having EHR, is associated with lower readmissions.
Hospitals should strive to improve patient safety culture as part of their strategic plan for quality improvement. In addition, hospital managers should consider implementing EHR as a resource that can support safety culture’s effect on outcomes such as financial and quality performance indicators. Future studies can examine the differences between basic and advanced EHR presence in relation to safety culture.