BackgroundThere is a gap in the literature regarding what takes place between the announcement of a regulatory intervention, such as an external inspection of a health care organisation, and the inspecting body’s site visit. This study aimed to explore inspecting bodies’ expectations of how inspected organisations should prepare before an external inspection and to elucidate how inspected health care organisations prepare before site visits.
MethodsThis qualitative study was based on data from 17 group interviews with a total of 75 participants representing inspection teams, organisation leaders and clinicians in inspected health care organisations. The data were analysed using a qualitative content analysis method.
ResultsWe identified two approaches to how the inspection teams expected that the inspected organisations should prepare before site visits. In the first approach the inspection teams did not expect any improvement activities to be initiated during this period and focused on identifying inadequacies that the inspected organisations should subsequently improve. In the second approach the inspection teams expected organisations to review their own practices and begin improvement activities if necessary. The inspected organisations responded in different ways to an upcoming site visit, and the organisations’ leaders were important in determining which activities would be initiated. Organisations in which leaders involved clinicians in assessing care delivery tended to initiate action to improve and expected inspection teams to assess their ongoing improvement work and provide guidance on further improvements. Leaders who did not involve clinicians in assessing the quality of care tended to perceive the current quality of care as adequate on the basis of reviewing written guidelines. They did not initiate action to improve care delivery apart from updating written guidelines describing how care should be delivered, and they expected the inspection team to confirm that their current practices were in line with the guidelines and external standards.
ConclusionsTo promote anticipatory effects in inspected organisations, inspecting bodies should stress the importance of assessing clinical practice and involving frontline clinical staff and leaders in the assessment and in improvement work before the site visit.
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