Introduction There is wide recognition that, if healthcare systems continue along current trajectories, they will become harder to sustain. Ageing populations, accelerating rates of chronic disease, increasing costs, inefficiencies, wasteful spending and low-value care pose significant challenges to healthcare system durability. Sustainable healthcare systems are important to patients, society, policy-makers, public and private funders, the healthcare workforce and researchers. To capture current thinking about improving healthcare system sustainability, we present a protocol for the systematic review of grey literature to capture the current state-of-knowledge and to compliment a review of peer-reviewed literature.
Methods and analysis The proposed search strategy, based on the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses guidelines, includes Google Advanced Search, snowballing techniques and targeted hand searching of websites of lead organisations such as WHO, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, governments, public policy institutes, universities and non-government organisations. Documents will be selected after reviewing document summaries. Included documents will undergo full-text review. The following criteria will be used: grey literature document; English language; published January 2013–March 2018; relevant to the healthcare delivery system; the content has international or national scope in high-income countries. Documents will be assessed for quality, credibility and objectivity using validated checklists. Descriptive data elements will be extracted: identified sustainability threats, definitions of sustainability, attributes of sustainable healthcare systems, solutions for improvement and outcome measures of sustainability. Data will be analysed using novel text-mining methods to identify common concept themes and meanings. This will be triangulated with the more traditional analysis and concept theming by the researchers.
Ethics and dissemination No primary data will be collected, therefore ethical approval will not be sought. The results will be disseminated in peer-reviewed literature, as conference presentations and as condensed summaries for policy-makers and health system partners.
PROSPERO registration number CRD42018103076.
- healthcare delivery system
- sustainable performance
- quality and efficiency
- grey literature
This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
Contributors JB conceptualised the study and leads the team. JH, KL and MC drafted the initial search strategy. JB, YZ, KL, JH, HA and MC contributed to the refinement of selection criteria. YZ developed the overarching methodology framework and drafted the manuscript. All authors had the opportunity to contribute to the final manuscript and approved the final submission.
Funding This work is supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council Partnership Centre grant in Health System Sustainability (ID: 9100002).
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.