Introduction Transparency in health care organisations has been common among commentators writing about health care. The interest has been due to the fact that management teams in health care organisations occupy positions of trust thus responsible for exercising power in pursuit of collective interest. Just like researches approaching health care organisations are myriad, so are its definitions. Contemporary researches connect the theory of patient-medic relationship in understanding transparency. To that regard, the concept is seen as a situation where efforts are made to ensure patients and other stakeholders are more concerned about hospitals’ safety, quality and financial performance and prices for the services offered (Lewin and Regine, 2000).
On the other hand, Knowles (2002) argues that transparency in the health sector goes beyond safety and quality. At its core, she believes transparency should encompass organisational behaviour, values and its willingness and commitment to achieving greater visibility. Other evidence-based researches integrate transparency, effective management and leadership in understanding modern health care organisations (Ovretveit and Gustafson, 2003; Kaplan and Norton, 2006). These researches posit that transparency in light of effective management and leadership is when one is honest, open and accountable in conducting business.
In as much, there seems to be lack of size-fits-all formula when it comes to defining transparency within the context of health care organisation. This is the reason why researches on importance of transparency for the effective management and leadership of health care organisations still create gaps. This research therefore builds on previous research to ascertain importance of transparency for the effective management and leadership of health care organizations. Also discussed will be the existing theoretical frameworks relating to transparency and the constraints to achieving transparency. Transparency for the effective management and leadership of health care organizationsThe dynamics of modern health care organisations such as complex payment systems, professional discretion and information asymmetry make organisations vulnerable to abuse of power.
This is why there has been proliferation of global initiatives to enhance transparency within health care organizations. Good example of this is the healthdirect Australia where the manager explains the availability of transparent, “healthcare triage, health advice and health information” (Australian Council on Healthcare Standards, 2008, p 26).
The British Medical Journal cites that transparency in health care organisations has long history and traces back when operations in health centres were not patient centred (Bossidy et al. , 2004). Underlying theories of transparency, effective management and leadership posit that good governance and community engagement are good indicators of transparency (The American College of Medical Quality, 2003 as cited in Bossidy et al. , 2004). However, importance of transparency cuts across various sectors. Transparency and good governanceGood governance is an intertwined term---cutting across aspects such as ways of managing organisations to realise its objectives.
Many health care organisations are geared towards good governance. In response to recent governance scandals, there has been introduction of principles that help understand what good governance should be within health care organisations. Recent publication from Victorian Auditor General’s Office (2009) cites issues such as performance, accountability, voice, fairness and direction. How do these principles augur with transparency? Rosendorff and Vreeland in their article Democracy and Data Dissemination: The Effect of Political Regime on Transparency shows that the relationship between transparency and good governance is seen when a leader aims at reducing malpractices like failure to pay healthcare professionals and consumer organisations in the management of an organisation (Mankins and Steele, 2005).
It therefore means transparency is not only a substitute of good governance but a way in which organisation is governed ethically and in accordance with laid down structures. Does this therefore mean democracies are more transparent compared to aspirations of the leader or the health care organisation entrusted with? Research by Johnson (2006) answers this question arguing, ‘good governance reflects transparency and in so doing, the leader needs to do other things including transparent information access that ensures effectiveness. ’ (p. 28).
Literature reviews on indicators that measure good governance tend to be concentrated on provision of accurate information about operations and information collection (Dunn et al. , 2007; Garling, 2013). In article, Organizational transparency drives company performance, Berggren and Bernshteyn link transparency and good governance explaining that at first level of transparency organisations ought to reveal its goals, strategies and objectives to its patients and other employees (Johnson, 2006).