What can healthcare organizations learn from the decline at Mid-Staffordshire and other similar failures? Given the literature and our work with a wide array of healthcare organizations, the causes of decline are distilled into three primary causes:
How should organizations think about sustaining and building upon excellence? It comes down to cultivating a spirit of continuous improvement. This can be a function of organizational leadership being preoccupied by previous levels of success and relying on the usual measures of performance captured in scorecards, accreditations or other reporting mechanisms.
Learning from success and failure
One of the common ‘missed opportunities’ in healthcare is learning from the failures of other organizations. There’s a tendency to study successful organizations in depth, as there’s an assumption that there is more to gain in trying to emulate attributes of success rather than learning from failure.
Sustaining excellence over time needs to be underpinned by organizational leadership that promotes a culture that puts critical reflection of performance at the heart of the organization in a non-threatening manner, provides support to staff to make improvements and sustain them and encourages a relentless focus on continuous improvement.