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

Public reporting of hospital performance data: views of senior medical directors in Victoria, Australia

Rachel Canaway A , Marie Bismark A , David Dunt A and Margaret Kelaher A B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Level 4, 207 Bouverie Street, Carlton, Vic. 3053, Australia. Email: rachel.canaway@unimelb.edu.au; mbismark@unimelb.edu.au; d.dunt@unimelb.edu.au

B Corresponding author. Email: mkelaher@unimelb.edu.au

Australian Health Review - https://doi.org/10.1071/AH17120
Submitted: 9 May 2017  Accepted: 14 August 2017   Published online: 9 October 2017

Abstract

Objective The aim of the present study was to better understand senior medical directors’ perceptions of public reporting of hospital performance data, how public reporting affects institutional behavioural change towards quality improvement and how it could be improved.

Methods Interviews were undertaken with 17 medical directors representing 26 metropolitan and regional public hospitals in Victoria, Australia, between June and August 2016. Data were analysed thematically.

Results Medical directors are well placed to comment on clinical and administrative aspects of quality, safety and performance monitoring in public hospitals. Their responses largely suggested that public reporting of hospital performance data in Australia is immature and not fulfilling its potential. There was little consensus among informants around what public reporting is, who it is for or its purpose. Although public reporting was considered to have important functions for hospitals and consumers, it was generally considered to lack robustness and have underutilised potential to inform consumers, build trust and drive quality and performance improvements within hospitals.

Conclusions The next steps needed to advance public reporting of hospital performance data in Australia include engaging clinicians and patients in selection and development of metrics, improving timeliness of reporting, and improving communication of information so that it is accessible and meaningful for different audiences.

What is known about the topic? Public reporting of hospital performance data is a mechanism increasingly used in the Australian health system, but it has attracted little research.

What does this paper add? This paper reveals a lack of shared understanding among medical directors in Victoria, Australia, on what public reporting of hospital performance data is, who it is for and its purpose. The paper highlights the potential importance of public reporting of hospital performance data for rural and regional healthcare consumers and how it may be strengthened.

What are the implications for practitioners? Stronger systems of public reporting of hospital performance data have the potential to increase consumer engagement and improve hospital performance, quality and safety. Awareness of the discourse around public reporting of hospital performance data can increase practitioners’ engagement in debate and development of reporting systems.

Additional keywords: hospital, public performance reporting, quality and safety.


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