Here are the abstracts of some of my publications from the last decade:
Alan Gillies , (2015) “The role of information governance within English clinical governance: Observations based upon the interim report from the NIGC of the Care Quality Commission”, Clinical Governance: An International Journal, Vol. 20 Iss: 1, 13-20
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is designed to explore the relationship between information and clinical governance in the English NHS.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper is a personal reflection based upon the interim report of the National Information Governance Committee (NIGC) of the Care Quality Commission.
Findings – The contribution of the NIGC to clinical governance in England has been significant for a number of reasons. Most notably, it has been embedded at the heart of an organisation concerned with the whole spectrum of health and social care, with a role where information is seen predominately as a means to deliver better care rather than an end in itself. The recommendation to establish a specific and mandatory information governance (IG) element of the inspection regime reflects the fact that without validation of the evidence base, the whole inspection regime may be seen as resting on insecure foundations, and provides re-assurance in the integrity of the whole inspection process, well beyond the scope of IG.
Originality/value – The paper provides an insight into policy making at the heart of clinical governance, and its relationship with IG. It highlights the fact that the work of the NIGC has placed validation of information at the heart of the new CQC inspection regime, providing increased confidence in the information on which the rest of the inspection process is based.
Alan C. Gillies , (2015),”Tools to support the development of a quality culture in a learning organisation”, The TQM Journal, Vol. 27 Iss 4 pp. 471 – 482
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to show how a systematic approach and supporting tools can
support the development of a quality culture, and align cultural change with process improvement goals.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper describes the development and deployment of a
systematic approach to developing a quality culture, achieved through a structured approach to
mentoring and supporting learning techniques including algorithmic matching of mentors to mentees
and a structured mentoring journey built around goals and milestones.
Findings – A structured approach to mentoring can deliver significant enhancements to a quality
culture, complementing structured approaches to process improvement allowing alignment of cultural
and process goals.
Research limitations/implications – The approach has been applied in a relatively small number
of organisations (eight) at the time of writing.
Originality/value – The use of a structured approach to learning enables establishment of a quality
culture to be part of a structured quality plan.
Keywords – Organizational culture, Quality culture, Learning organizations
Gillies AC and Howard J (2011) Information as change agent or barrier in health care reform?
Health care systems across the world are in a state of flux. If the experience of the early 1990s can be used as a model, the recent global economic downturn will lead to very significant pressures to reduce spending and achieve better value. Systems have provided a range of approaches to modeling and evaluating these more complex organizations, from simple process models to complex adaptive systems. This paper considers the pros and cons of such approaches and proposes a new modeling approach that combines the best elements of other techniques. This paper also describes a case study, where the approach has been deployed by the authors. The case study comes from health care services in Ontario, Canada, who are shifting from the traditionally hospital-based system to one that recognizes a greater role for community and primary care services.
Alan Gillies, (2011) “Improving the quality of information security management systems with ISO27000”, The TQM Journal, Vol. 23 Iss: 4, pp.367 – 376
Purpose – The ISO27001 standard provides a model for “establishing, implementing, operating, monitoring, reviewing, maintaining and improving an Information Security Management System (ISMS)”. This paper seeks to consider the global adoption of the ISO27000 series of standards, and to compare them with the adoption rates for ISO9000 and ISO14000. The paper aims to compare the barriers to adoption for the different standards.
Design/methodology/approach – Previous studies suggest that ISO27001 adoption is slower than for the other standards. The uptake of ISO27001 has been slower than the related management system standards ISO9001 and ISO14001, with approximately half the certifications compared with ISO14001. In response to the issues raised in this analysis, the paper considers how an approach based on a maturity model can be used to help overcome these barriers, especially in smaller companies.
Findings – The 2008 survey of ISO27001-certificated companies found that 50 per cent of the certificated organisations which responded had fewer than 200 employees, and were therefore in the SME category. Perhaps more surprisingly, around half of these had fewer than 50 employees The framework has used the ISO27002 code of practice to define the elements, which should be considered within the ISMS. Each element is then developed through a maturity model lifecycle to develop processes to the point where an ISO27001-compliant ISMS can be implemented.
Originality/value – The principal contribution of the paper is a step-by-step framework designed to simplify the process for organisations working towards ISO27001 and offer significant benefits at milestones before systems are mature enough to achieve certification.
Gillies, Alan C. and Patel, Inderjit (2009) “IT and the NHS: Investigating Different Perspectives of IT using Soft Systems Methodology,” Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology: Vol. 3 : Iss. 2, Article 10. DOI: 10.2202/1941-6008.1094
The UK NHS National Programme for IT has been criticized for a lack of clinical engagement. This paper uses a soft systems methodology (SSM) analysis of a case study from the use of electronic systems within a National Health Service (NHS) Mental Health Trust in the United Kingdom (UK) to explore the legal and ethical implications of the failure to develop clinical systems which are fit for purpose.
Soft systems methodology (SSM) was used as a theoretical model both to derive deeper insights into the survey data and suggest how communication between those producing information and those using it, could be improved. Multiple methods were employed which included a postal survey and participant interviews to triangulate the data.
The use of SSM reinforced the concept that the national IT programme is based on a ‘hard’ systems view and does not take local factors (which are related to ‘soft systems’ thinking) into account. The study found administrative staff to be a crucial link between clinicians and information departments and highlighted the need for a joint-up information strategy and integrated systems.
The article concludes with a discussion of the legal and ethical implications of the findings and the lessons for the broader UK national programme. It argues that the failure to deliver systems that are fit for purpose is not value neutral but an ethical issue.
Gillies AC & Maliapen M (2008) Using Healthcare System Archetypes to help hospitals become learning organisations, The Journal of Modelling in Management vol 3 no1. 82-99.
Purpose – Internationally, change in healthcare is often a result of a knee jerk reaction to high-profile adverse events. Alternatively, change is driven by a reductionist set of targets and indicators, which do not reflect the complexity of hospitals. This paper posits that hospitals would benefit from promoting organisational learning, and that system archetypes offer a mechanism for achieving this. It seeks to examine the application of healthcare system archetypes in an Australian hospital.
Design/methodology/approach – Archetypes do not describe any one problem specifically. They describe families of problems generically. Their value comes from the insights they offer into the dynamic interaction of complex systems. As part of a suite of tools, they are extremely valuable in developing broad understandings about the hospital and its environment.
Findings – Diagnostically, archetypes helped the hospital managers recognize patterns of behaviour that are already present in their organizations. They served as the means for gaining insight into the underlying systems structures from which the archetypal behaviour emerges. The application of system archetypes to the strategic analysis of the hospital case reveals that it is possible to identify loop holes in management’s strategic thinking processes and it is possible to defy these fallacies during policy implementation as illustrated by the results of the archetype simulation model. In this study, hospital executives found that policy modification helped to avoid such pitfalls and avoid potentially cost prohibitive learning had these policies been implemented in practice.
Originality/value – The paper demonstrates how system archetypes were deployed within a hospital to improve organizational learning, and provides an approach that may be deployed in other large complex health care organisations.
Gillies AC & Galloway J (2008) Using Soft Systems Methodology to manage Knowledge in an IT Service Desk environment, The International Journal of Knowledge Management, vol 4 no4, pp. 90-111.
Nonaka (1998) argued that for companies to prosper they must move away from a view of organisations as information processing entities with a focus on formal and systematic knowledge to exploit tacit knowledge. Much of the subsequent literature relates to commercial companies, often in North America.
Public services in the UK are undergoing rapid change to improve cost effectiveness, customer focus and improve outcomes. Reports such as Wanless (2002,2004, 2007), Protti (2002) and Gray (2007) argue that this requires a more intelligent use of knowledge and information.
However, authors such as Avison and Wood Harper,(1990) have long argued that systems to support such information-based innovations are context dependent and should be viewed as socio-technical systems rather than simply technological systems.
This study uses Checkland’s Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) to consider the local factors operating within a case study from a local NHS health informatics service organisation to assess the need to take account of local factors when applying knowledge management techniques in such cases, with a particular focus on managing the tacit knowledge components, highlighted by Nonaka.
Harrop, N & Gillies AC (2007) Improving Hospital Emergency Departments : Information, Culture and Context , International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol 20 no4, 272-284.
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to review the implementation of a service improvement in the UK National Health Service, relevant to the National Programme for IT in the NHS.
Design/methodology/approach – Case study and semi-structured interviews, relating users’ interaction with information systems to other aspects of a service improvement programme.
Findings – Information technology is a major plank of public sector service reform in general. Its impact will rely on the completeness of cultural reform and the transformation of a reactive information audience into one more proactive in seeking and making opportunities for beneficial change.
Research limitations/implications – The research reported was conducted in a single setting, preliminary to an action research project. The project’s aim will be to engage NHS users in a critical appreciation of their information needs, and to contribute this appreciation to the evaluation and refinement of the National Programme for IT and its products. The advantage of a situated study stems from concrete perspective and the capture of detail. These elements are readily understood by the reader, who can then assess the level of relevance to his own situation.
Practical implications – The intervention of a major information project ought to be synchronised in the host community with organisational development and the critical review of information needs.
Originality/value – Inasmuch as the NHS can be said to epitomise the social complexity of other major public sector organisations, the paper will interest readers from outside and inside the NHS. The contribution of a recipient perspective will counterbalance the tendency to “technology push” detectable in the National Programme.