Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Can a clinical senate enhance state-wide clinician engagement? A survey study

Julie A. Quinlivan A B E , Mary Miller C and Marani Hutton D

A Department of Health, 189 Royal Street, East Perth, WA 6004, Australia.

B Institute for Health Research, University of Notre Dame Australia, 19 Mouat Street, Fremantle, WA 6160, Australia.

C WA Country Health Service, 189 Wellington Street, Perth, WA 6000, Australia. Email: Mary.Miller@health.wa.gov.au

D South Metropolitan Health Service, PO Box 546, Fremantle, WA 6959, Australia. Email: Marani.Hutton@health.wa.gov.au

E Corresponding author. Email: julie.quinlivan@nd.edu.au

Australian Health Review - http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/AH16110
Submitted: 30 May 2016  Accepted: 28 October 2016   Published online: 16 December 2016

Abstract

Objective Clinician engagement correlates with quality, safety and efficacy outcomes. The aim of the present study was to explore whether a clinical senate model achieves clinical input into system manager and operational health service boards.

Methods A mixed-methods survey was undertaken. Participants were current or immediate past members of the Clinical Senate of Western Australia (CS). For the 124 surveys sent out, the response rate was 60%.

Results Respondents stated the CS played a role in clinician engagement (95%), contributed to healthcare reform (82%), knowledge of contemporary health issues (92%), feedback to decision makers (82%), clinician networking (94%), debate on important issues (93%), enabled clinicians to work on recommendations to improve health at a state level (87%), contributed to clinician thinking on health reform (88%) and enabled clinicians to share their knowledge (91%). Four major themes emerged in the qualitative analysis: (1) the need for a strong independent clinician forum and voice at a state level; (2) the need to strengthen clinician interactions with operational healthcare boards; (3) a strong belief that clinician engagement strengthened quality and safety outcomes at a state level; and (4) that membership was important and needed to be diverse, multidisciplinary and independent, but structurally representative of clinicians in the state.

Conclusion A clinical senate model can facilitate state-wide clinician engagement.

What is known about the topic? High levels of clinical engagement foster a culture within healthcare organisations that is associated with the delivery of sustained high-quality, safe and efficient services. This has led to a focus on strategies to optimise clinical engagement in healthcare planning and reform. However, there is limited data exploring how to achieve clinical engagement at a state, rather than local, level within the healthcare system.

What does this paper add? This survey study evaluates the effectiveness of the Western Australian clinical senate model in achieving clinical engagement at a state level with regard to the outcomes of quality and safety, planning and reform. The survey findings suggest the clinical senate model is an effective strategy for state-based clinical engagement.

What are the implications for practitioners? Clinical engagement is important. It is necessary to have in place strategies that address not only local engagement within a health service, but also system-wide engagement in order to promote quality and safety, planning and reform agendas at a state level.

Additional keywords: clinical engagement, healthcare reform, quality and safety in healthcare.


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