Use Baldrige, Joint Commission standards to improve quality, processes

Hospital leaders and strategists must adopt Baldrige criteria to improve quality and processes for not just a shot at a prestigious award, but to ensure the best, most efficient care possible for patients, The Joint Commission and the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recommended at the 2014 American College of Healthcare Executives' (ACHE) Congress in Chicago this week.

About 65 percent of hospitals across the country said they would likely use Baldrige criteria for improvement or assessment and 41 percent said they were likely to apply for a Baldrige award or a state-level Baldrige-based award by 2018, according to ACHE "Futurescan 2013: Healthcare Trends and Implications 2013-2018."

Only 16 healthcare facilities received the much coveted Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award since 2002, so it's essential that hospitals understand their organizational profile and contextual factors for success, and 2012 Baldrige award winner North Mississippi Health System has the formula down to a science.

It all starts with dedicated "servant leaders" who are visible, vocal and present in the organization, along with the hospital following systematic, aligned, deployed processes and continuous cycles of improvement, under the guidance of Baldrige and the Joint Commission principles, according to J. Rodger Brown, vice president of North Mississippi Health System. 

Hospitals must consider feedback from the board of directors, the community, senior leadership teams, employees, physicians and department leaders before pursuing any new strategic initiatives, said Ormella Cummings, Ph.D., chief strategy officer at North Mississippi.

This vetting process involves cycles of data gathering and analysis to create and develop an organization environmental assessment, approved goals, organization and workforce alignment and deployment of those goals across all facets of the organization, and 90-day action plans as well as a budget. Leaders should gauge the effectiveness of a strategic initiative by examining market share evidence, Cummings said.

Aside from specific and detailed strategic plans, hospital executives and physicians must build synergy and continue their education to become the most effective team possible, said Lee Greer, M.D., a physician and chief quality and safety officer at North Mississippi Health System. Doctors at the organization go through at least six hours of training and further education every week, while employees get more than 80 training hours a year, Greer said.