Italian and American hospitals, in two different periods, have been urged by external circumstances to extensively redesign their quality improvement strategies. This paper, through the use of a survey administered to chief quality officers in both countries, aims to identify commonalities and differences between the two systems and to understand which approaches are effective in improving quality of care. In both countries chief quality officers report quality improvement has become a strategic priority, clinical governance approaches, and tools—such as disease-specific quality improvement projects and clinical pathways—are commonly used, and there is widespread awareness that clinical decision making must be supported by protocols and guidelines. Furthermore, the study clearly outlines the critical importance of adopting a system-wide approach to quality improvement. To this extent Italy seems lagging behind compared to US in fact: (i) responsibilities for different dimensions of quality are spread across different organizational units; (ii) quality improvement strategies do not typically involve administrative staff; and (iii) quality performance measures are not disseminated widely within the organization but are reported primarily to top management. On the other hand, in Italy chief quality officers perceive that the typical hospital organizational structure, which is based on clinical directories, allows better coordination between clinical specialties than in the United States. In both countries, the results of the study show that it is not the single methodology/ model that makes the difference but how the different quality improvement strategies and tools interact to each other and how they are coherently embedded with the overall organizational strategy.
- Italy, quality, United States of America