STUDY: Pay-for-Performance Not Leading to Improvement

A study by the Duke Clinical Research Institute concluded that the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) pay-for-performance pilot program has not resulted in significant improvement in quality of care or outcomes in hospital patients with acute myocardial infarction (heart attack).

The three-year study compared 54 hospitals in the CMS pilot program with 446 control hospitals. CMS’s pay-for-performance program, which was launched in 2003, gives financial bonuses to hospitals scoring in the top 20% in any of five clinical areas, including acute myocardial infarction, as measured by numerous standardized quality indicators.

CMS and Premier Inc., a nationwide group purchasing organization of hospitals collaborating with CMS in the pilot project, recently published preliminary results for the first two years of the pay-for-performance program. They reported significant improvement for all five clinical conditions being monitored.

However, unlike the study conducted by the Duke researchers, this evaluation did not compare the hospitals in the pilot program with hospitals not receiving financial incentives. The ability to draw conclusions about the direct impact of the pay-for-performance program on quality improvement was therefore limited.

The study, “Pay for Performance, Quality of Care, and Outcomes in Acute Myocardial Infarction,” ap-peared in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. and is available at http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/297/21/2373.


Quarterly Quality Report Says Inspection Alone Won’t Improve Food Safety

Eliminating outbreaks of food borne illness is possible, but it won’t happen by increasing inspections alone. That’s what food safety experts say in ASQ’s latest Quarterly Quality Report.

The report, titled “Food Safety—A Quality Management Systems Approach,” comes in the wake of several well-publicized food contamination cases. It identifies actions that can lessen the likelihood of contamination, such as:

  • Reinforcing maintenance procedures.
  • Strengthening regulatory agencies in high risk areas.
  • Increasing diligence by food companies.
  • Using more effective inspection—not just more inspection.

ASQ spoke to several industry experts for the report. They included: Steve Wilson, chief quality officer for the U.S. Commerce Department and ASQ board member; John Surak, a food safety consultant and member of ASQ’s Food, Drug and Cosmetic Division; and Janet Raddatz, vice president of quality and food safety systems at Sargento Foods.

To view the complete Quarterly Quality Report, go to www.asq.org/quality-report/reports/200706.html.


Auto Spec Allows Measurement Data Exchange

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is supporting development of a new data specification that will allow compliant products to store and exchange measurement data from process monitoring instruments in an open and nonproprietary format.

The data specification is expected to provide substantial savings to quality systems users and their suppliers. It defines the information exchanged between factory floor measurement instruments and statistical process control (SPC) software.

The specification’s development work was conducted by NIST researchers and representatives of the Automotive Industry Action Group, key manufacturers and quality software vendors.

NIST says a measuring device typically cannot communicate with SPC software unless both the device and the software component speak the software vendor’s proprietary language. The 1,500 to 2,000 existing languages make transfer of information difficult, producing unnecessary costs.

The quality measurement data development effort represents the first time a group of competing providers of quality software has joined forces to define a nonproprietary solution, according to NIST.

NIST supported the development effort by creating a test suite. For more information, go to www.isd.mel.nist.gov/projects/metrology_interoperability/qmd_test_suite.htm.

Who's Who in Q

Name: Jim L. Smith

Residence: Metamora, IL

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business management and administration from Columbia Pacific University, a distance learning school based in California

First job in quality: Machine operator at Caterpillar Inc. (where his father and grandfather worked) in 1964

Current job: Quality division manager for Caterpillar’s Mossville Engine Center in Mossville, IL, which includes overseeing the quality management systems for Caterpillar’s Greenville, SC, facility

ASQ activities: Fellow; member of the Audit, Automotive, Quality Management and Human Development, and Leadership Divisions; chair of Heart of Illinois section; certified manager of quality/organizational excellence, quality auditor and quality engineer. Teaches preparatory courses for several certifications.

Recent honor: ASQ Automotive Division’s Quality Professional of the Year for 2006, Quality magazine’s Quality Professional of the Year for 2007, Global Register’s Professional of the Year for 2007

Personal: Married, five children

Favorite ways to relax: Writing, reading, studying history (especially pre-1900), golf, traveling, following St. Louis Cardinals baseball, teaching and mentoring, and spending time with family

Quality quote: The human side of quality is as important as the technical side—maybe even more important. It’s fairly easy to teach someone how to use a quality tool or technique; it is more difficult to motivate people to use the tool appropriately and with rigor and discipline. A quality professional’s development needs to start as early as possible. It takes strong commitment, a positive attitude and lifelong learning. Most of us will not reach the heights of the quality giants, but being a practicing quality professional who can mentor others is well within our grasp.


Baldrige Regional Conferences Slated for Cleveland, Seattle

The Baldrige National Quality Program has scheduled its regional conferences this year for Sept. 20 in Cleveland and Oct. 5 in Seattle.

The conference provides an opportunity to learn best practices and performance strategies from representatives of this and previous years’ Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipients.

Registration can be completed online at www.enter.net/%7emaccinc/brc2007 or by calling 215-822-6319. For additional information, go to
www.quality.nist.gov/2007_Regionals/Regionals.htm (case sensitive).

 Short Runs

INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR STANDARDIZATION Technical Committee 176 held a plenary meeting in Helsinki, Finland, in June to continue developing the amendment to ISO 9001:2000 and the revision to ISO 9004:2000. It was agreed that ISO 9001 should advance to the draft international standard stage and should not be circulated as a second committee draft. This means the next edition of ISO 9001 is expected to be published around October 2008, instead of 2009, as previously expected. The next edition of ISO 9004 is not expected until August 2009.

THE JOINT COMMISSION HAS RELEASED its 2008 National Patient Safety Goals and related requirements for each of its accreditation and certification programs, which include: ambulatory care and office based surgery, behavioral healthcare, hospitals and critical access hospitals, disease specific care, home health, long-term care and laboratories. It is the sixth annual release of the goals. To see the complete 2008 National Patient Safety Goals, go to

THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE says lean Six Sigma techniques being used by the Army continue to prove successful, and leaders anticipate reaching $2 billion in savings this year. Several Army bases and offices within federal Army headquarters have been using lean Six Sigma methods to improve processes such as recruiting, equipment and clothing distribution, inventory management and vehicle maintenance. For more information on the Army Business Transformation Strategic Framework, go to www.army.mil/armybtkc/index.htm.

A STUDY PUBLISHED IN Health Services Research, shows that having doctors write electronic prescriptions reduced medication errors by 66%. The study also found that prescribing by computer reduced dosing errors by 43% and instances in which patients were harmed by 37%. The study noted, however, that only 9% of U.S. hospitals have computer physician order entry systems. In Canada, the rate is even lower.

WASHINGTON BASED NONPROFIT GROUP eHealth Initiative says legislators in 41 states introduced 168 health IT bills in the first six months of 2007. Governors in 11 states have signed 13 health IT related bills into law. The laws mandate plans and, in some cases, provide funding for the mandates. According to the firm, about half of the states are developing plans related to health IT because of concerns about the quality of healthcare.


Freund Scholarship Awarded

Denisa Olteanu has received ASQ’s Richard A. Freund International Scholarship for 2007. The $5,000 scholarship, named for a past ASQ president, supports a quality professional’s graduate study.

Olteanu came to the United States from Romania to study statistics at Virginia Tech. She received her master’s degree and has now been accepted into the doctorate program in statistics at Virginia Tech.

“At the end of my studies, I want to continue working in the quality field and later I hope to lead initiatives, and have the power to change practices and make people aware of the importance of quality improvement,” Olteanu says.

For more information on the scholarship and Olteanu, go to www.asq.org/about-asq/awards/honors/bio/olteanu.html.

ASQ News

EACH ONE REACH ONE SURPASSES GOAL The Each One Reach One (EORO) member recruitment program has surpassed its 5,700-member year-end goal. There were 6,043 members recruited through the program in the last fiscal year. This is an increase of 13.5% over the previous year. For more information on the EORO program, go to www.asq.org/eoro/index.html.

TEAM COMPETITION ENTRIES DUE Entries for the International Team Excellence Award competition are due Sept. 3. Team finalists will participate in live competitions during ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement, May 5-7, 2008, in Houston. For more information and to view the 2007 presentations, go to http://wcqi.asq.org/team-competition/index.html.

MEDALS NOMINATION DEADLINE MOVED UP The awards board has moved the nomination deadline for ASQ awards from Nov. 1 to Oct. 1, allowing the board to name the award winners in November instead of December. The purpose is to give ASQ and the winners’ companies more time to promote the names of the winners before the awards are handed out in the spring. For more information, go to www.asq.org/about-asq/awards/index.html or e-mail Trish Borzon at tborzon@asq.org.

PROGRAM AWARDS LARGEST GRANT TO DATE The Community Good Works (CGW) program awarded a $15,000 grant to the Partnership for Education in Ashtabula County, OH. The funding will be used to implement community and school partnerships in Ashtabula County school districts. This is the largest grant ever awarded by the CGW program. For more information about the CGW program, go to www.asq.org/about-asq/what-we-do/goodworks.html.

ORGANIZATIONAL MEMBER RECOGNIZES EMPLOYEES Abbott Laboratories held its third annual certification award ceremony in June. At the event, Abbott recognized all of its employees who earned ASQ or Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS) certification during the previous year. Employees received personalized awards recognizing their specific certifications. A total of 136 certifications were recognized, with some employees earning more than one.

DIVISION OFFERING CQA REFRESHER COURSE The Audit Division will hold a certified quality auditor (CQA) refresher course Oct. 9-10 in Atlanta. The purpose is to prepare participants for the CQA exam, which will be administered Oct. 13, following the Audit Division conference. The cost is $595. Participants will receive a copy of The ASQ Auditing Handbook, third edition. For more information or to register, go to www.asq.org/courses/cqa-refresher.html.

DIVISIONS CO-SPONSORING CONFERENCE Two ASQ divisions are among the sponsors of the 51st Fall Technical Conference, Oct. 10-13 in Jacksonville, FL. The conference is jointly sponsored by ASQ’s Chemical and Process Industries Division, the Statistics Division, and the American Statistical Assn.’s sections on Physical and Engineering Sciences and Quality & Productivity. For more information, go to www.eng.fsu.edu/ftc2007.

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