Background: The Dutch healthcare inspectorate publishes its inspection frameworks to inform both the public and healthcare providers about regulatory procedures and in the hope that publication will motivate healthcare providers to improve quality and comply with standards. This study explores the consequences of publishing these frameworks for the regulation of quality and safety in healthcare. Methods: We selected recently published inspection frameworks used in three healthcare settings: nursing home care, dental care and hospital care. We conducted 37 interviews with 39 respondents (healthcare professionals, managers, quality officers, policy advisers and inspectors) and explored their awareness of and experiences with these frameworks. We held a group interview with three inspectors to reflect on our findings. All data underwent thematic content analysis. Results: We found that the institutional infrastructure of a sector plays an important role in how an inspection framework is used after publication; particularly the presence and maturity of quality improvement work in the sector and the inspectorate's grip on a sector matter. Respondents mentioned differences in framework use in organisational contexts, particularly relating to scale. In some organisations, the framework served as an accountability mechanism to check if quality meets basic standards, while in other organisations professionals adopted it to stimulate discussion and learning across teams. Conclusion: Publication of inspection frameworks might result in quality improvement work, and in particular contexts could be used as a regulatory strategy to target quality improvement in a healthcare sector. For this, it is important that regulators consider the capabilities and possibilities for learning and improving within a sector.

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BMJ Quality and Safety
Health Care Governance (HCG)

Weenink, J.-W., Wallenburg, I., Leistikow, I. P., & Bal, R. (2020). Publication of inspection frameworks: a qualitative study exploring the impact on quality improvement and regulation in three healthcare settings. BMJ Quality and Safety. doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2020-011337