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54 Health Care Organizations Go for Baldrige Gold:
Kudos to Leaders Reshaping an Industry

From the Baldrige website:

Eighty-three organizations are in the running for the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige
National Quality Award, the nation’s highest recognition for organizational
performance excellence through innovation and improvement. Applicants
include three manufacturers, two service companies, seven small businesses,
10 educational organizations,
54 health care organizations and seven
nonprofits/governmental organizations.

Go health care!

We have had the pleasure of being part of several health care organizations during
their journeys along the Baldrige path. Our view is that the leading edge health
care systems in the Baldrige universe today are among the best-led, best-
managed organizations in the world. These organizations are GOOD. And the
most exciting thing is that the best are studying, learning from, and emulating the
best. Health care excellence is not a zero sum game. The sector gets better and
we all benefit.

Some may ask, why so many health care applicants? Why so few manufacturers
or service companies? This is not the place to find an answer. As the saying goes,
we are where we are. Health care has the momentum right now.

We see four key differentiators for health care system performance excellence.

Key 1: Strong cultures

The best health care organizations tend to have strong, distinctive cultures forged
on years of dedicated service to the community; these cultures serve as the
foundation for everything else that happens inside the system. Just like
reputations, cultures take a long time to develop, and can be undermined in an
instant. Baldrige-class health care systems focus passionately on nurturing and
embedding their cultures into their daily operations.

Key 2: Crisp performance accountability systems

Excellence is a habit. Excellent health care organizations make it a habit to
perform at a high level through a devotion to integrated performance accountability
systems that set clear standards and expectations for employees and
stakeholders at all levels of the organization. Baldrige-class health care systems
will inevitably link patient-driven strategic goals in a cascading manner across the
organization. In other words, there is no misunderstanding among staff that patient
safety and positive clinical outcomes are the result of many connected actions by
many people working together. This does not happen spontaneously but requires
diligent focus and vision.

Key 3: Relentless focus on self-improvement

3M Corporation used to be the corporate benchmark for systemic innovation;
today, it is Baldrige-class healthcare systems that can serve as models for all
industries: innovation and learning are embedded in management systems,
knowledge management systems, process improvement systems, employee
development, etc.

The Baldrige website has links to application summaries for Baldrige Award
winners for the last ten years at the following website:
gov/Contacts_Profiles.htm  Take a look at a couple of recent health care system
winners (or any winners, for that matter!) and see what a relentless focus on
innovation and improvement looks like in practice.

Key 4: Results of consequence

Results matter to all organizations, but they matter more in health care: bad results
can have a drastic human cost. Excellent health care systems will inevitably show
you a crystal clear linkage from strategic objectives and action plans to clinical
quality and patient safety. There is no room for ambiguity—you are either
achieving measurable results of consequence or your patients/customers are
suffering. Baldrige-class healthcare systems leverage the passion but make sure
that the management and work systems have the right goals and processes to turn
the passion into results.

It is humbling, inspiring, and enriching to peek into the inner workings of a Baldrige-
class healthcare system. We remain optimistic that in the future more than a
handful of recession-battered manufacturers and service companies will see
similar value in committing to integrated performance excellence. But, until then,
we salute the leaders of the revolution in performance excellence--the Baldrige-
class health care systems that are reshaping an industry.