Clayton, Pam; Kenward, Kevin, Ph.D. (1992, ASQC) American Medical Association, Chicago, IL
The American Medical Association (AMA) Physician Masterfile is the single most comprehensive physicians database in the United States. It features information on the education, biographies, and current practices of over 650,000 physicians. Compiled from several databases, Masterfile is maintained by over 60 individuals, and represents information solicited from over 500 primary sources, including hospitals, licensing boards, certifying boards, medical societies, and from physicians themselves. Awareness of data problems led to the hiring of a database quality manager in 1990. However, when top management refused to support the manager's recommendation to implement an organization-wide quality practice, the members of the Department of Professional Activities Information instituted departmental quality management to correct their databases, which are employed to update Masterfile. Data quality measurement methods were placed into practice after clarifying what information was to be collected. Methods include examining how complete records are, monitoring data timeliness, carrying out annual validation studies to check accuracy, examining inter-database and intra-database consistency, and noting data costeffectiveness and usefulness. Next, a total quality team was formed, flow-charts developed, problems detailed, short- and long- term solutions implemented. Customer communication and vendor quality were improved. The total quality initiative highlighted two major departmental deficiencies: lack of process documentation and inconsistency in many processes. Documentation is now regularly produced for all processes, which creates consistency. The quality approach proved to be so successful that it became standard departmental practice, and spawned a grassroots effort to convince upper management that an association-wide quality initiative is necessary.
Electronic data systems,Quality assurance (QA),Total Quality Management (TQM)