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Helen Crump

Area of study
Systems and culture
Fellowship level
Year awarded
Host university
Health Services Management Centre, School of Social Policy
University of Birmingham
Helen joined the Health Services Management Centre in 2021. Her research interests include quality improvement, user experience of care coordination and inequalities. After working in various policy roles, she set up her own research consultancy in 2018, and has undertaken research for a range of UK and international clients.
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Navigating the cult of the healthcare success story: learning how to learn from failure in the reporting of service improvement


Learning from failure is accepted to be just as important as learning from success, but such thinking is often not applied to the field of improvement in practice. This study aims to understand how unsuccessful service improvement processes are reported and shared within and beyond healthcare, and to develop the wider science of learning from improvement failure. It will explore what frameworks, theories, guidelines and mechanisms currently exist for advancing learning from failure in service improvement work, nationally and internationally. It will also explore what factors influence the way negative results of service improvement processes are interpreted and shared, and what factors might make organisations and systems more receptive to reporting and learning from failure.


Aims and questions will be addressed via a multi-method study drawing on literature synthesis, expert survey and interviews, workshops, and retrospective case studies. These will include:

  • reviewing and synthesising the theory and empirical research relevant to understanding the reporting of quality improvement failure in healthcare internationally. This will then support the development of a heuristic typology of service improvement failure;
  • in-depth qualitative exploration of factors influencing reporting behaviours
  • and developing guidance to support reporting of unsuccessful improvement projects.


Watch to Helen’s HSR UK 2023 conference presentation, ‘Navigating the cult of the healthcare success story: learning how to learn from ‘failure’ in the reporting of service improvement’

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