Characteristics of High Performing Primary Care Pediatric Practices: A Qualitative Study

Author Department

Healthcare Quality; Medicine

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date




Performance on pediatric quality measures varies across primary care practices. Healthcare quality is associated with organizational factors, but their effect is understudied in pediatric care. This study aimed to develop hypotheses regarding the relationship between organizational factors and composite scores on pediatric quality measures.


Using a positive deviance approach, semi-structured interviews were conducted with pediatricians and staff (n=35) at 10 purposively selected high-performing pediatric primary care practices in Massachusetts between September and December 2016. Practices were sampled to achieve diversity in geographic location, size, and organizational structure. Interviews aimed to identify organizational strategies (e.g., care processes) and contextual factors (e.g., teamwork) that may be associated with performance on quality measures. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed using qualitative content analytic methods.


We identified four major themes (MT): MT1) Practice Culture; MT2) Practice Structures and Quality Improvement Tools; MT3) Attitudes and Beliefs Related to Measuring Care Quality; and MT4) Perceived Barriers to Achieving High Performance on Quality Measures. MT1 sub-themes included contextual factors such as teamwork, leadership, and feeling respected as an employee; MT2 subthemes included fixed characteristics such as practice size and strategies such as use of an electronic medical record; MT3 and MT4 subthemes linked these constructs to factors external to the practices.


This study suggested that elements of organizational culture may play as important a role in the quality of care delivered as specific quality improvement strategies. Interventions to further test this relationship may aid practices seeking to improve the care they deliver.