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Turning around an ailing district hospital: a realist evaluation of strategic changes at Ho Municipal Hospital (Ghana)

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-10-787

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A realist case study design was used to analyse how specific management practices might contribute to improving the performance of an urban district hospital in Ho, Volta Region, in Ghana. Mixed methods were used to collect data, including document review, in-depth interviews, group discussions, observations and a review of routine health information.At Ho Municipal Hospital, the management team dealt with the crisis engulfing the ailing urban district hospital by building an alliance between hospital staff to generate a sense of ownership with a focus around participative problem analysis. The creation of an alliance led to improving staff morale and attitude, and contributed also to improvements in the infrastructure and equipment. This in turn had a positive impact on the revenue generating capacity of the hospital. The quick turn around in the state of this hospital showed that change was indeed possible, a factor that greatly motivated the staff.In a second step, the management team initiated the development of a strategic plan for the hospital to maintain the dynamics of change. This was undertaken through participative methods and sustained earlier staff involvement, empowerment and feelings of reciprocity. We found that these factors acted as the core mechanisms underlying the changes taking place at Ho Municipal Hospital.This study shows how a hospital management team in Ghana succeeded in resuscitating an ailing hospital. Their high commitment management approach led to the active involvement and empowerment of staff. It also showed how a realist evaluation approach such as this, could be used in the research of the management of health care organisations to explain how management interventions may or may not work.Over the last 20 years, a number of strategies aimed at improving the performance of health services have been implemented in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Each strategy has had its specific perspective and focused on one particular is


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