Policy makers and managers face a difficult challenge in keeping up with the changing organisations and methods of health care. Organised systematic quality work, that is, quality systems, can make this task easier. The aim here was to study different quality systems, identify common characteristics, find types of quality systems and discuss the practical implications of the results.
The study was designed as a qualitative study of seven clinics with quality systems at a large university hospital in Sweden. Purposefully selected, 19 managers or quality co-ordinators were interviewed. The interviews were audio taped, transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically.
Six organisational aspects were present in the interviews: resources, administration, culture, co-operation, goal achievement and development of competence. The aspects were used to categorise the clinics’ systems into three types: local, centralised and integrated systems.
The responses indicated that local systems had a decentralised organisation, allowing for a high degree of adaptability. Centralised systems were reported to be more top–down orientated, allowing for a highly predictable output. Integrated systems were reported to have a management style that emphasized co-operation, allowing for both good adaptability and predictability.
Policy makers and managers could use the described aspects and types of quality systems to help decide what type of quality system to implement in a specific setting, as a base line for evaluation, or as a framework for developing existing quality systems.
2006. Vol. 76, no 2, 125-33 p.