Academic journal article Frontiers of Health Services Management

Small-Town Touch, Big-City Innovation, World-Class Aspirations

Academic journal article Frontiers of Health Services Management

Small-Town Touch, Big-City Innovation, World-Class Aspirations

Article excerpt

Hospitals are facing a whole new set of challenges and will need different tools and competencies to remain viable into the future. How do we balance lower census and higher acuity with decreasing reimbursement? How do we ensure that the supply of nurses and physicians will meet the demand for services? How do we address the demand for transparency from both regulatory agencies and the general public? How can we remain independent in an age of mergers and acquisitions? And what impact will the move from a pay-for-service model to a pay-for-performance model have on hospitals?

These were the questions Schneck Medical Center faced when deciding to embark on the Baldrige journey.

The Baldrige Tool Belt

The challenges we faced were numerous-from ensuring that excellent quality of care was not compromised, to providing access to care for all the patients we served in the manner they deserved, to maintaining a competent and engaged workforce and medical staff, to remaining financially viable. We soon determined that a systematic process to address the ever-increasing challenges in healthcare was essential. There was little room for error as we planned for the future, and maintaining the status quo was not an option.

As Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, has been quoted as saying, "If the rate of change on the outside of a company exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near." Schneck was experiencing a significant rate of change outside our organization. We needed to develop processes that would allow us to change the business while continuing to run the business.

As we explored alternative models for sustaining the organization's longterm viability, we found that the Baldrige Criteria provided a structure conducive to our culture. In general terms, the Baldrige Criteria are not prescriptive; in fact, they are nearly the opposite. They are focused on results, and they encouraged us to take steps to make our results exceptional. The Criteria challenged us to identify and document our processes, demonstrate how those processes advanced our mission, validate data from all stakeholders, and ensure we were making logical and data-driven decisions. They drove us to develop processes that were often unique and always tailored to our own organization's needs.

Baldrige offers an overall system framework, focusing on results in all areas of an organization. The approach is strategic and includes organizational and personal learning, knowledge sharing, corporate governance, ethics, societal responsibility, and sustainability.

Accomplishing organizational excellence requires a variety of tools depending on the situation and circumstances. We say that Baldrige is the "tool belt" that holds all the tools we may need. The Baldrige Award was not the end of our journey, but only a milestone on the path we are taking. We continue to use these tools for excellence every day, with every patient we serve.

Driving Organizational Excellence

Building engagement and alignment among key stakeholders is a critical step on the performance excellence journey. It is not something that happens by chance; it involves a great deal of effort and thought.

Leadership Sets the Tone

Schneck's pursuit of organizational excellence has been driven from the top. Our commitment to the Baldrige journey began with our former president and CEO Gary A. Meyer. His leadership was essential in establishing that our performance excellence journey is to be owned by the entire management team.

Meyer's strategy actively involved key stakeholders, including the board of trustees, medical staff, and hospital personnel. This inclusion has been critical in achieving Schneck's high performance and progressing toward our vision of being a healthcare organization of excellence- every person, every time.

Build the Culture

Schneck is a healthcare organization with strong workplace practices rooted in respect, teamwork, and good communication. …

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