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Baldrige and Health Care: New Survey Reaffirms a Proven Partnership for Success

From NIST Tech Beat: December 4, 2012

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Contact: Michael E. Newman

For the second time in two years, Truven Health Analytics, a major health care survey research and data analysis organization, has linked hospitals that adopt and use the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence to successful operations, management practices and overall performance.

nurse with child patient
A member of the North Mississippi Health Services (NMHS) health care team provides home-based care to a young patient. NMHS, located in Tupelo, Miss., received the 2012 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in the health care category.
Credit: Photo Courtesy of North Mississippi Health Services
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The close relationship between top-performing hospitals and the Baldrige Criteria was a significant finding of a recently published survey of chief executive officers at hospitals that were recognized as one of Truven Health's 100 Top Hospitals award winners in 2012. The new affirmation of the Baldrige impact on health care re-emphasizes the results of an October 2011 study,* also by Truven Health Analytics (then known as the health care business of Thomson Reuters), that found hospitals that had won the Baldrige National Quality Award or been considered for a Baldrige Award site visit outperform other hospitals in nearly every metric used to determine the 100 Top Hospitals.

According to Truven, the recent survey of 100 Top Hospitals CEOs focused on their adoption rates of the Baldrige leadership practices. It contained questions organized into four areas: organizational environment, processes, results and basic demographic information. Among the survey findings were the following:

  • Overall, 100 Top Hospitals winners have extensively adopted the prescribed Baldrige practices, even though 63 percent reported that they did not intentionally use the Baldrige Criteria to develop organizational goals and/or process improvement initiatives. 
  • Teaching hospitals reported the highest formal use of the Baldrige Criteria. Nearly 70 percent of these hospitals noted that their teams have used the award criteria to develop goals and process improvement initiatives.
  • One of the major challenges facing the majority of CEOs surveyed is organization-wide alignment (the ability of all parts of an organization to work together to support key goals, address key challenges and respond to sudden changes) as they prepare their hospitals for health care reform. More than 80 percent of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they have implemented the practices listed on the survey (which were Baldrige practices, although not specifically identified as such), with the exception of alignment of results across all areas (68 percent).

"The Baldrige program has long been the gold standard for leadership practices to drive higher quality and organizational performance. Our effort to use the 100 Top Hospitals National Balanced Scorecard to identify the use of these practices is an early step in the establishment of evidence-based management practices," said Jean Chenoweth, senior vice president at Truven Health Analytics, in a Nov. 20, 2012, news release.

Named after Malcolm Baldrige, the 26th Secretary of Commerce, the Baldrige Award was established by Congress in 1987 to enhance the competitiveness and performance of U.S. businesses. Since 1988, 93 organizations have received Baldrige Awards. The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program is managed by NIST in conjunction with the private sector. Originally given only to manufacturers, small businesses and service companies, Congress and the President broadened the Baldrige Award program in 1998 to include education and health care organizations. Nonprofit organizations, including government agencies, became eligible for the award in 2007. The first health care organization to receive the award was SSM Health Care (http://www.nist.gov/baldrige/ssmhealth.cfm) of St. Louis, Mo., in 2002. Health care organizations have accounted for more than 50 percent of Baldrige award applicants since 2005 and have received 12 Baldrige Awards in that time.

The 12-page Truven Health Analytics survey, 100 Top Hospitals CEO Insights: Adoption Rates of Select Baldrige Award Practices and Processes, is available at www.nist.gov/baldrige/upload/100-Top-Hosp-CEO-Insights-RB-final.pdf.

* See the Oct. 25, 2011, Tech Beat article "New Study Finds that Baldrige Award Recipient Hospitals Significantly Outperform Their Peers" at www.nist.gov/baldrige/baldrige-102511.cfm.  The study is available at http://www.nist.gov/baldrige/upload/baldrige-hospital-research-paper.pdf.