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J Hosp Med. 2012 Jan;7(1):60-5. doi: 10.1002/jhm.957. Epub 2011 Oct 13.

Can healthcare go from good to great?

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School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California.


Healthcare's improvement efforts have focused on the point of care, targeting specific processes such as preventing central line infections, while paying relatively less attention to the larger issues of organizational structure and leadership. Interestingly, the business community has long recognized that poor management and structure can thwart improvement efforts. Perhaps the corporate world's best-known study of these issues is found in the book Good to Great, which identifies top-performing corporations, compares them to carefully selected organizations that failed to achieve similar levels of performance, and gleans lessons from these analyses. In this article, we analyze the feasibility of carefully applying Good to Great's methods for analyzing organizational structure and leadership to healthcare. While a few studies in healthcare have come close to emulating Good to Great's methodology, none have matched its rigor. These shortcomings highlight key information and measurement gaps that must be addressed to facilitate unbiased, rigorous studies of the organizational and leadership predictors of institutional excellence in healthcare.

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