Baldridge buzzing in health care circles

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – North Mississippi Health Services has a lot of company in its Baldrige journey.
The health care category is one of the most active in the Baldrige National Quality Program, accounting for more than half of the applicants since 2005. In 2012, 25 of the 39 applicants were health care companies.
“Baldrige process is great for any company,” said John Heer, president and chief executive of North Mississippi Health Services. “It’s a particularly good fit for health care.”
Baldrige process focuses on reducing costs while improving quality – doing things right the first time – and finding long-term solutions, not just short-term fixes, said Harry Hertz, director of the Baldrige Performance Program at the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.
“The (Baldrige) criteria help you do that,” Hertz said. “It’s what health care really has to do these days.”
The stakes are high for health care. Bad quality doesn’t just mean losing customers to a competitor; it means customers losing their lives.
When a 2008 Baldrige health care winner was asked about the benefits to his community, he said, “People are alive today who would not be alive if we had not pursued the Baldrige process,” Hertz recounted.
In 2011, the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award commissioned a study by Thomason-Reuters, comparing the performance of its Top 100 hospitals against the Baldrige health care award winners.
The report found the Baldrige hospitals where more likely to be a part of the Top 100, which represent the top 3 percent, than their peers, and the Baldrige hospitals as a group outperformed the Top 100 hospitals on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s core measures.
“You can’t achieve results these organizations are achieving unless you’ve got a highly engaged workforce,” something the Baldrige criteria stresses, Hertz said.
michaela.morris@journalinc.com