OUR OPINION: NMHS claims top award for business excellence

By NEMS Daily Journal

The nation’s most coveted recognition for business excellence, the Baldrige National Quality Award, has been presented to North Mississippi Health Services, the Tupelo-based system of hospitals and clinics in Northeast Mississippi and Northwest Alabama.
The 2013 award provides an exclamation point for an earlier Baldrige Award to North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, the flagship of the six-hospital, 34-clinic system. That award came in 2006. The hospital and NMHS are the only Mississippi businesses to win the award, presented after a rigorous internal evaluation and preparation, followed by site visits from the program’s evaluators.
Malcolm Baldrige was Secretary of Commerce from 1981 until his death in a rodeo accident in July 1987. He was a proponent of quality management as a key to prosperity. He took a personal interest in the quality improvement act that was eventually named after him. In recognition of his contributions, Congress named the award in his honor.
The Baldrige Award is given by the president of the United States to businesses – manufacturing and service, small and large – and to education and health-care organizations that apply and are judged to be outstanding in seven areas: leadership, strategic planning, customer and market focus, information and analysis, human resource focus, process management, and business results.
The award is judged for quality quantified in the seven categories.
The award, leading business organizations report, has had a major impact on the importance of redeveloping practices of quality in American business.
The process examines an organization’s performance and also its improvement in key business areas: customer satisfaction, financial and marketplace performance, human resources, supplier and partner performance, and operational performance. The category also examines how the organization performs relative to the competition.
A report, Building on Baldrige: American Quality for the 21st Century, by the private Council on Competitiveness, said, “More than any other program, the Baldrige Quality Award is responsible for making quality a national priority and disseminating best practices across the United States.”
The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) manages the Baldrige National Quality Program, cooperating with the private sector.
The process of applying, as NMHS has found, is itself an act of self-improvement.