Academies Say Engineers and Health Professionals Should Collaborate

A new report from the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies suggests the U.S. healthcare industry has neglected engineering strategies and technologies that have revolutionized quality, productivity and performance in many other industries.

This collective inattention has contributed to serious consequences in healthcare, such as the estimated 100,000 preventable deaths per year, outdated procedures, about $500 billion wasted annually through inefficiency, costs rising at about three times the rate of inflation and 43 million uninsured people, according to the report.

“The healthcare sector is deeply mired in crises related to safety, quality, cost and access that pose serious threats to the health and welfare of many Americans,” said Jerome H. Grossman, co-chair of the committee that developed the report and senior fellow and director of the Health Care Delivery Policy Program, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. “Unfortunately, the healthcare system has been very slow to embrace engineering tools and clinical information technologies that could transform it from an underperforming conglomerate of independent entities into a high performance system.”

The report says transformation of the healthcare system will require dramatic changes in the education and training of healthcare professionals, engineers and managers and in the way innovation in healthcare delivery is advanced.

“Systems-engineering tools have been used in a wide variety of applications to achieve major improvements in the quality, efficiency, safety and customer centeredness of processes, products and services in a wide range of manufacturing industries,” the report says. “The healthcare
sector as a whole has been very slow to embrace them, however, even though they have been shown to yield valuable returns to the small but growing number of healthcare organizations and clinicians that have applied them.”

The report then lists several tools widely used by quality professionals that could improve the performance of healthcare providers but claims few healthcare professionals or administrators are equipped to think analytically about healthcare delivery as a system, appreciate the relevance of systems-engineering tools or work with engineers to apply these tools.

The study was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. An executive summary of Building a Better Delivery System: A New Engineering/Health Care Partnership is available from the National Academies Press at http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11378.html.


Citizenship Reporting Plays Larger Corporate Role

Many global companies are integrating the reporting of their corporate citizenship activities into their firms’ basic business missions, according to a recent report from the Conference Board. The report describes how five companies have done this:

  • BP (British Petroleum) offers a detailed discussion of the impact of its fuels and other products on the environment.
  • HP (Hewlett-Packard) employs its technology expertise to pursue initiatives to bridge the digital divide, not only in the United States but in less developed countries.
  • Novo Nordisk evaluates the impact of the fight against diabetes and its other healthcare programs on the health of people worldwide.
  • Procter & Gamble conducts a product life cycle assessment to ensure its consumer products are manufactured, used and disposed of in a responsible manner.
  • UPS strives to realize operational efficiencies in its transportation and logistics services while minimizing the company’s impact on the environment.

Common themes running through each corporation’s reporting on corporate citizenship include:

  • The values are reflected in the discussion of each company’s core values, highly integrated into the firms’ operation and given heavy weight in corporate governance.
  • Each company makes extensive use of internal audits, internal and external benchmarking and continuous improvement metrics, such as a balanced scorecard, to raise the bar on citizenship performance. There is much transparency in the setting of targets and de-tailed reporting on the degree of attainment of targets in communicating with stakeholders.
  • The companies have incorporated widely recognized standards, including ISO 14001, into their reporting and assessment efforts.
  • Companies are increasingly using independent auditors to monitor and report on their performance with regard to these standards.

For more information, go to http://www.conference-board.org.


Iranian Postage Stamp Promotes Quality

A postage stamp was recently issued in Iran to promote quality awareness. The stamp features the likeness of Hasem Aref Kashfi and commemorates his being recognized as a “pioneer in quality and excellence at the national level.”

Kashfi, a leader in the quality movement in Iran, is also Iran’s country councilor for ASQ’s International Chapter.

In July, more than 1,000 attended an international conference of quality managers in Tehran, Iran.


Blended Six Sigma Learning Offered for Healthcare

ASQ and Creative Healthcare (CHC), a performance improvement firm, will begin offering blended learning Six Sigma training courses to quality professionals in the healthcare industry this November.

The program will combine CHC’s online training program and classroom instruction with webinars, which are online experiences that include voice links to an instructor, slides and other real-time learning content produced by ASQ.

Participants will be able to contact instructors directly between the classroom training and the periodic webinars.

The first classroom instruction will be a three-day session Nov. 9-11 in Atlanta followed by CHC’s online Green Belt program of two webinars. Courses will also be offered at CHC headquarters in Scottsdale, AZ, in February.

Other ASQ healthcare courses included in the cluster of course being offered in Atlanta in November are Baldrige in Healthcare, Compliance in Healthcare, Lean Six Sigma for Healthcare Executives, Lean Thinking Applied to Healthcare, Statistical Process Control for Healthcare and Systematic Problem Solving for Sus-tained Improvements Using Quality Tools—Healthcare Applications.

For additional information on the Atlanta cluster of courses and blended learning, go to http://www.asq.org/courses/clusters.html#6.


Executive Recruiter Says Six Sigma Still Outpaces Lean

According to results of a study by the Avery Point Group, an executive recruiter, Six Sigma still dominates lean by a wide margin as the more prominent and popular improvement methodology.

Three indicators led to this conclusion:

  • Both methodologies have seen an explosion of books published about their topics over the last five years, although books on Six Sigma consistently outpace lean by a wide margin.
  • Based on internet engine keyword search counts, Six Sigma search inquiries still outpace lean ones by a two to one or greater margin, although searches on lean have been gaining ground recently.
  • Based on internet job board postings, use of the keywords “Six Sigma” outpaces that of “lean” consistently by more than 50%.

Avery says the difference in prominence may be due to Six Sigma’s move beyond its roots in manufacturing into other disciplines, while lean remains largely perceived as a tool to improve manufacturing processes.


Six Government Agencies Honored for Innovations

Six government initiatives recently received Innova-tions in American Government Awards. Each winner will receive a $100,000 grant to support the continuation of its efforts. The recipients are:

  • Charter agencies in the state of Iowa, which redirect energy from bureaucratic requirements into innovation. The agencies volunteer to be accountable for measurable customer benefits and contribute savings/revenues in return for exemption from many state requirements. For more information, go to http://charter.iowa.gov/ca.html.
  • A program assessment rating tool at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, which assesses every federal program’s purpose, design management and results to determine effectiveness. For information, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/part.
  • SEED School of the District of Columbia School District, the first urban public boarding school. For information, go to http://www.seedfoundation.com.
  • The state forensics program of Allegheny County, PA, which reintegrates individuals with behavioral health diagnoses on release from state penitentiaries into the community and provides assistance with basic needs and mental health services to help participants become productive members of society. For information, go to http://www.county.allegheny.pa.us/dhs/csyst/adult/jail/maxout.htm.
  • Youth Civic Engagement in Hampton, VA, a comprehensive strategy that gives young people authority to be equal players in city decisions. For more information, go to http://www.hampton.va.us/foryouth/index.html.
  • The systematic code enforcement program of Los Angeles, which proactively inspects more than 760,000 rental units for habitability and enforces state health and safety codes. For information, go to http://www.lacity.org/lahd.

The awards are a program of the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University administered in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government. Go to http://ashinstitute.harvard.edu for more information on the Ash Institute and the awards.


Quality Education Conference Nov. 13-15 in Miami

The 13th National Quality Education Conference will be held Nov. 13-15 in Miami.

Keynote speakers will be:

  • Franklin Schargel, a former New York City teacher and administrator, current president of the Schargel Consulting Group and author of two books, who will discuss dropout prevention and how at-risk learners can become successful graduates.
  • Anne Conzemius of QLD Learning, former assistant state superintendent for Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction and co-author of three books, who will speak on leadership in a learning community.

Preconference workshops and ASQ’s certified quality improvement associate exam will be offered on Nov. 12. For more information and to register, go to http://nqec.asq.org or call 800-248-1946 or 414-272-8575.


Collaborative Surgical Improvement Effort Launched

A Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP) has been launched to reduce surgical complications by 25% by 2010.

SCIP is one of the first national quality improvement initiatives to unite the federal government and its agencies, the organization that accredits hospitals, private sector experts in quality improvement and patient safety efforts, and national hospital, physician and nursing organizations.

The partnership effort is focusing on process measures, such as the appropriate use of antibiotics near the time of surgery and the use of beta blockers to prevent cardiovascular events.

Participating organizations include the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, American College of Surgeons, American Hospital Assn., American Society of Anesthesiologists, Assn. of periOperative Registered Nurses, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and Veterans Health Administration.

For more information, go to http://www.medqic.org/scip.

The FACE of Quality

Name: Diane L. Meyer.

Residence: Alexandria, VA.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration and MBA from St. Ambrose University, Davenport, IA; further training through the Women’s Executive Leadership program and Army Management Staff College.

Introduction to quality: Product quality manager, artillery and small arms, for the Army’s Tank-Automotive & Armament Command-Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, Rock Island, IL.

Current job: Quality customer liaison assisting the deputy G3 for industrial operations, Headquarters Army Materiel Command, currently working on quality strategies and initiatives.

Awards: Federal Employees Assn., Quad-City Chapter Federal Employee of 2005 Award in the public contact category.

ASQ activities: Certified quality manager, auditor and technician; Aviation, Space & Defense (AS&D) Division board and Army councilor since 2003; AS&D Division Conference on Quality in the Space and Defense Industries committee member 2004-2006.

Other activities: RABQSA lead auditor; formal and informal mentor.

Personal: Single.

Favorite ways to relax: Travel, skiing, quilting, gardening and marathon running.

Quality quote: The Army acquisition community shares many of the same quality challenges as do other government and commercial activities. Quality in Army materiel is important from a fiscal perspective to each of us as taxpayers, but more importantly, quality products benefit our soldiers through increased reliability, improved performance and enhanced readiness. The soldiers deserve our best.

ASQ News

CERTIFICATION APPLICATION DEADLINE EXTENDED The deadline to apply to take several ASQ certification examinations has been extended to Oct. 21. The affected exams are quality auditor, quality engineer, quality improvement associate, software quality engineer and quality process analyst. For test sites and additional information, go to http://www.asq.org/certification.

2006 SIX SIGMA CONFERENCE PLANNED ASQ’s 2006 Six Sigma conference will be held Feb. 6-7, 2006, in Palm Springs, CA. Keynoters will include Eric Mat-tenson from Quest Diagnostics and Larry Smith, a consultant who recently retired from Ford Motor Co. Special events will be the annual Super Bowl party and Master Black Belt dinner. For additional information, go to http://www.asq.org/conferences/six-sigma/index.html.

2006 QUALITY MANAGEMENT CONFERENCE SET The 18th annual quality management conference will be March 2-3, 2006, in Irvine, CA. Early bird registration begins this Oct. 1. For more information, go to http://www.asq.org/qm/conferences.

TEAM EXCELLENCE CRITERIA UPDATED Evaluation criteria for the Teamwork & Participation Forum’s International Team Excellence Competition have been updated for 2005-2006. To view the new criteria, go to http://www.asq.org/teamwork/docs/2005_06_criteria.doc.

BALDRIGE RESEARCH BEING CONDUCTED Research is being conducted by a national taskforce that seeks to increase the number of organizations successfully using the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award principles, framework and criteria to improve organizational performance. Organizations that have applied Baldrige are asked to participate in the re-search by responding to questions at http://www.performance-excellence.com.

BIOMEDICAL GRANT HELPS CHILDREN A grant from ASQ’s biomedical division to Miami University of Ohio led to the design of an improved active orthotic boot for children with cerebral palsy. The prototype, designed to assist rehabilitation, was unveiled at ASQ’s 2005 World Conference by a team of students from the university’s manufacturing and mechanical engineering department.

DIVISION AWARDS SCHOLARSHIP A Food, Drug and Cosmetic Division fellowship for 2005-2006 has been awarded to Caroline Dietzsch, a student at the College of Pharmacy of the University of Texas at Austin.

LICENSING AGREEMENTS SIGNED ASQ recently signed licensing agreements for Six Sigma training with organizations in two countries: Cor-poracion 3D Calidad in Ecuador, which will do training in Spanish, and the Tutelage in the United Arab Emirates. For further information about ASQ Six Sigma training worldwide, go to http://www.asq.org/global/sixsigma.

BALDRIGE NONPROFIT FUNDING PROMOTED ASQ President Jerry Mairani and representatives of California corporations and organizations recently met with California Rep. Jerry Lewis, chair of the U.S. House appropriations committee to push for funding for the new Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award nonprofit category.

Short Runs

THE WASHINGTON POST ran an extensive three-part series in late July about quality in healthcare. One of the articles deals with how the Department of Veterans Affairs’ healthcare system has made a dramatic transformation during the last 10 years in the quality of care it provides. Summaries of the articles are available in the newspaper’s archives of articles at http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washingtonpost/search.html.

THE PATIENT SAFETY AND QUALITY IMPROVEMENT ACT was signed into law by President Bush in late July. It provides legal protections to health professionals who report their practices to patient safety organizations.

ANSI/ISO/ASQ QE 19011S-2004, Guidelines on Quality and/or Environmental Management Systems Auditing-U.S. Version With Supplemental Guidance Added, is now available from ASQ Quality Press. The standard is identified by ASQ item numbers T19011S or T19011SE (electronic) and can be ordered at http://qualitypress.asq.org/perl/catalog.cgi?item=T19011S (case sensitive).

THE SOCIETY FOR HEALTH SYSTEMS (SHS) has an Oct. 31 submission deadline for its 2006 student paper competition. The winner will present the paper at the annual SHS conference Feb. 10-12, 2006, in San Diego and receive a cash award plus travel and hotel expenses. For additional information, go to http://shs.iienet.org/forum.


Baldrige for Education Network Now Offered

ASQ’s newest free access, Web based network, Baldrige for Education, is now live at http://www.asq.org/communities/baldrige-education/index.html. Free registration is available to both members and nonmembers.

The network is for educators or those interested in quality in education who want to understand or implement the core values and criteria of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Among features are ways to connect with people already implementing Baldrige and ways to get answers to questions about the criteria.

Other ASQ network communities are Baldrige in Healthcare, Sarbanes-Oxley Network and Community Good Works.


Comments Sought for Crop Production Guidelines

An informal committee representing production agriculture, related academia, management system consultants and agricultural based industry has initiated the development of guidelines for the application of ISO 9001 to agricultural crop production.

The new document is intended to help production agriculture address issues of food safety through traceability, structured management practices and third-party audited consistency.

The informal AG9000 work group is inviting interested individuals, particularly those in government, production agriculture and agricultural management system consulting, to participate in its work. A draft of the standard developed by the committee is available for review, and comments are being solicited.

The committee has submitted a new work item proposal to ISO technical committee 34, food products, created in parallel with an American national standard proposal organized by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (ASAE).

Interested parties can contact Scott Cedarquist, ASAE standards director, at 269-428-6331 or cedarq@asae.org or Richard Cantrill, at 217-359-2344 or richard.cantrill@aocs.org.

Average Rating


Out of 0 Ratings
Rate this article

Add Comments

View comments
Comments FAQ

Featured advertisers