Baldrige quality standards, investment in Detroit help Henry Ford Health System to top

While the city of Detroit struggled financially over the past decade and sustained a 30 percent population decline, Henry Ford Health System essentially doubled in size when it comes to revenue and staff, winning a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in the process.

Improving the organization came down to a focus on fundamentals, including the seven pillars of performance: people, quality and patient safety, service, growth, research and education, community, and financial, Henry Ford Health System CEO Nancy Schlichting, said in an interview with Health Research & Education Trust President Maulik Joshi published in Hospitals & Health Networks.

"Organizations cannot accomplish a great deal if they're not doing the fundamentals well. We've made tremendous strides over the last decade or so on quality and patient safety and the levels of service that we provide," said Schlichting (pictured).

The health system saved about $10 million between 2008 and 2011 through its "No Harm Campaign," which reduced harmful patient events by more than 30 percent, preventable infections by 45 percent and cut the average length of stay by nearly two days, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

The Baldrige quality standards, along with transparency about how the hospital performed, also helped Henry Ford Health improve, using feedback to improve metrics and boost performance. The health system won the Baldrige National Quality Award in 2011, and plans to reapply in 2016.

The hospital also invested in the community--investing in the city rather than expanding into suburban markets, like many other city-based hospital systems. Moreover, the hospital took a leadership role in the community when many other businesses were skeptical about Detroit's future, said Schlichting, 2014 recipient of the TRUST Award from the Health Research & Educational Trust, an American Hospital Association affiliate.

Another important aspect to the system's success was its reporting relationships--having hospital leadership look for the best ways to apply research within the working programs by interacting directly with the leaders of those programs. "We invite a lot of partners to come in and help us--from industry, from other universities, from all walks of life--to help inform and change our thinking on various things. We're also evaluating our international work in terms of business process and how we innovate and drive strategy that can build scale and impact," Schlichting told Joshi.

To learn more:
- here's the interview