The health care system in Saudi Arabia has serious problems with quality and safety that can be reduced through systematic quality improvement (QI) activities. Despite the use of different QI models to improve health care in Saudi hospitals during the last 2 decades, consistent improvements have not yet been achieved and the results are still far below expectations. This may reflect a problem in introducing and implementing the QI models in the local contexts. The objective of this study is to assess the extent of QI implementation in Saudi hospitals and to identify the organizational characteristics that make Saudi hospitals particularly challenging for QI. Understanding these characteristics can inform efforts to improve them and may lead to more successful implementation.Methods:
A mixed-methods approach was conducted using 2 data collection tools: questionnaires and interviews. The quantitative phase (questionnaires) aimed to uncover the current level of QI implementation in Saudi hospital as measured by 7 critical dimensions adapted from the literature. The qualitative phase (interviews) aimed to understand the organizational characteristics that impede or underpin QI in Saudi hospitals.Results and Discussion:
The QI implementation was found to be significantly poor across the 7 dimensions with average score ranging between 22.80 ± 0.57 and 2.11 ± 0.69 on a 5-point Likert scale and with P value of less than .05. We also found that the current level of QI implementation helped Saudi hospitals neither to improve “customer satisfaction” nor to achieve measurable improvements in “quality results” scoring significantly low at 2.11 ± 0.69 with P value of .000 and 2.47 ± 0.57 with P value of .000, respectively. Our study confirms the presence of a multitude of organizational barriers that impede QI in Saudi hospitals. These are related to organizational culture, human resources management, processes and systems, and structure. These 4 were found to have the strongest impact on QI in Saudi hospitals.Conclusion:
It appears that the most important contributing factors to the successful implementation of QI in Saudi hospitals are proper human resources utilization and effective quality management. Through careful planning, change management, proper utilization of human resources, supportive quality information systems, focus on processes and systems, structural support, and an organizational culture that is compatible with QI philosophy, Saudi hospitals will be more capable in achieving sustained measureable improvements in the quality and safety of patient care.