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Make clinical networks deliver improved quality through learning 8 lessons - new research

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Make clinical networks deliver improved quality through learning 8 lessons - new research

New research by a team at Leicester University has shown that clinical communities (networks) can be really effective in delivering improved quality if they learn and incorporate 8 key lessons.

The research, published in the Journal of Healthcare Organisation and Management and funded by the Health Foundation reviewed and synthesised relevant literature to provide practical lessons on how to use clinical community-based approaches to improve quality.(read the full paper)

The team found a number of overlapping but distinct clinical community-based approaches can be identified in the literature, each suitable for different problems. While the evidence for the effectiveness of these is mixed, but there is some agreement on the challenges that those adopting such approaches need to address, and how these can be surmounted.

The 8 key lessons for clinical networks are to:

  1. Foster a strong vertically integrating core
  2. Start from a clear theory of change, but be prepared to learn and modify
  3. Identify and provide the right resources and training
  4. Hold the community together, and recognise and deal with conflict and marginalisation
  5. Foster a sense of community
  6. Collect and use data wisely
  7. Find the balance between hard and soft tactics
  8. Recognise the importance of context

The paper produced its own definition of Clinical communities:

Clinical communities:
  • are formed of interdependent groups and individuals;
  • consist of members who may cross clinical and organisational boundaries;
  • consist of members united by a common purpose linked to bridging the gap between best scientific evidence and current clinical practice;
  • consist of members who come together not merely to learn or share knowledge, but who are themselves responsible for achieving those aims;
  • exploit the potential inherent in networks for effective and low-cost knowledge generation and diffusion;
  • operate through both vertical and lateral structures;
  • deploy peer influence and use primarily informal, social control mechanisms to achieve change;
  • seek to harness the power of the community and its collective wisdom in seeking solutions to problems, including about contextual factors and local solutions.
> Read the full research paper

(pdf, University of Leicester Research Archive website)