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Pursuing Perfection in Healthcare

Summary: Leading business outside the healthcare industry view defect free processes as an essential strategy for increasing market share and profits. They would not tolerate error rates currently experienced in healthcare. While it may not be possible to achieve major quality improvements across the entire healthcare delivery system, there are significant examples of success in certain targeted areas. In response to the need for models of excellence in healthcare, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2001 initiated a Six Sigma type national demonstration program called Pursuing Perfection: Raising the Bar for Healthcare Performance. The program is based on the premise that healthcare organizations can make quality a central business strategy and consequently gain outstanding patient outcomes and financial viability. Twelve organizations have been given start-up grants, and a subset of these will be awarded implementation grants. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement administers the program and provides technical assistance. A National Advisory Committee made up of quality experts from healthcare and other industries provides vision and experience, while a report from the Institute of Medicine offers a framework for healthcare delivery and methods for addressing deficiencies in the system. The planning period made apparent the many assets in the Pursuing Perfection program and highlighted what will be the most difficult changes to make in the current system. Finding ways to make quality strategy financially viable has been a challenge for many years, and there are no immediate solutions, but project teams are encourage by signals from other industries that the pursuit of perfection will lead to success. A sidebar article provides an example of quality and diabetes care.

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  • Topics: Six Sigma, Customer Satisfaction and Value, Cost of Quality
  • Keywords: Health care,Six Sigma,Quality improvement (QI),Customer service,Cost of quality (COQ)
  • Author: Kabcenell, Andrea; Berwick, Donald W.
  • Journal: Six Sigma Forum Magazine