Agency Study: Healthcare Quality Up

The quality of healthcare in the United States has improved by 2.3% each year from 1994 to 2005, but the pace of the progress has slowed, according to figures from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

The average annual rate of improvement declined to 1.5% from 2000 to 2005, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's State Snapshots report.

The best performing states across overall measures of healthcare quality—some 149 measures—were Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin. The worst performing were Arkansas, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Visit http://statesnapshots.ahrq.gov/snaps07/index.jsp to access this year's State Snapshots and see a breakdown of each state's scores.

Assessing healthcare quality

In another recent study, most U.S. adults said they believe there are fair and reliable ways to evaluate the quality of healthcare options.

More people are sure about this today than they were two years ago, when the Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health-Care Poll posed the same question.

This year's poll also found that most U.S. adults favor patient satisfaction surveys over other quality measures, and most are interested in using web based consumer rating tools. For more information on the poll, visit www.harrisinteractive.com/news/allnewsbydate.asp?NewsID=1289.

Enhanced website

Another DHHS agency recently unveiled a new Hospital Compare website for consumers to review the quality of local hospitals.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' website builds on quality information, patient satisfaction surveys and pricing data on specific procedures to help consumers make decisions "about the quality and value of the healthcare available to them through local hospitals," according to a statement prepared by DHHS.

The website, www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov, uses 26 quality measures and includes 10 topics related to patients' experiences of care to report on the hospitals' performances.


Automaker Draws From a Virtual Assembly Line

Ford Motors' efforts to design manufacturing processes with digital employees in a virtual assembly plant are paying off, a recent survey has validated.

The automaker has been using virtual tools to test workers' movements on the assembly line for more than eight years to determine the best way things could be built. A recent study by the RDA Group determined Ford's production quality rose by 11% last year, in part because of the virtual tools.

Ford officials said safety increased because the technology helps predict and eliminate on-the-job injuries. Ford also uses advanced motion capture technology and human modeling software to design jobs that are less physically stressful because of ergonomically correct movements and motions.

The virtual manufacturing tool also can be used to validate that an assembly process has been completed, aiding in the quality of the process, company officials said.


Some ASQ Dues to Increase

Some categories of ASQ memberships will increase by a few dollars later this year, the ASQ Board of Directors has announced.

Individual regular, senior and fellow annual dues will go up by $4 to $129. Associate annual dues will increase $2 to $74. New organizational membership dues will increase from $15,000 to $18,000. Changes take effect July 1.

There will be new dues for K-12 district and K-12 school members: K-12 district members will pay $750 and K-12 school members $350. Forum or division, student, sustaining and organizational membership dues will not change.

The board also approved some name changes to the member categories: regular members will be called full members, sustaining members will be called site members, and organizational members will be called either existing enterprise members or new enterprise members. These changes also take effect July 1.

Direct any questions on these changes to mgdteam@asq.org.


Nursing the Demands Of Quality, Patient Care

Nurses' time and energy can be heavily taxed when they're involved in quality improvement initiatives on top of taking care of their patients, a recent study concluded.

More nurses are being pulled into quality improvement projects at hospitals because of their experience in handling day-to-day patient responsibilities, according to the study conducted by the Center for Studying Health System Change. At the same time, nurses are expected to continue their direct patient care responsibilities without missing a beat.

This, coupled with a shortage of nurses, puts extra pressure on hospitals to find the right balance between quality efforts and patient care.

The study, based on interviews with hospital leaders in Detroit, Memphis, TN, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Seattle, does not include any recommendations. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation commissioned the study "to gain a better understanding of the role that nurses play in quality improvement and the challenges nurses face when balancing the competing priorities."

For more details on the study's findings, visit www.hschange.org/CONTENT/972/.

Who's Who in Q

Name: Marcia Daszko.

Residence: Santa Clara, CA.

Education: Master's degree in mass communications from San Jose State University.

current Job: President of Marcia Daszko and Associates.

Previous job: Daszko has been involved in corporate communications and marketing. She is a founding board member of the nonprofit organization In2:InThinking Network and a keynote speaker at the Deming Institute's annual conference.

Introduction to quality: She was introduced to quality by Perry Gluckman, who would become one of her mentors. Later, W. Edwards Deming became another mentor. She has attended 20 of Deming's four-day seminars. Daszko co-founded the Bay Area Deming User Group, which has become the largest Deming User Group, meeting monthly for 14 years.

asq activities: Daszko is a member of ASQ and has spoken at many ASQ conferences and chapter meetings.

Other Activities/Achievements: She is a regular keynote speaker on topics such as strategic leadership, transformation and innovation topics. Daszko is also involved in strategic planning and new knowledge facilitation. She is an off-site retreat leader, advisor and executive coach.

Published Works: Daszko has published numerous articles, research papers and newsletters, and she is currently writing a book.

Quality Quote: A leader's job is to transform his/her organization. But survival is optional. If leaders do not transform their thinking, their organization might not survive.

ASQ News

TRAINING IN MALAYSIA ASQ and Genaxis, a software and training company, together will offer Six Sigma training in Malaysia. The agreement gives Genaxis a license to deliver ASQ training to organizations throughout the Southeast Asian country. Training offerings will include Six Sigma Executive, Champion, Black Belt and Green Belt programs.

HUNTER AWARD Nominations are being accepted for this year's William G. Hunter Award, sponsored by ASQ's Statistics Division. The award promotes accomplishments made during an individual's career in applied statistics. Nominations are due June 30. For more information, visit www.asqstatdiv.org/awards.htm.

SHAININ MEDAL Applications for this year's Dorian Shainin Medal are being accepted by the ASQ Nominating Committee. The medal is awarded for the development and application of creative statistical approaches in problem solving related to product or service quality. To learn more about the medal, visit www.asq.org/about-asq/awards/shainin.html.

BEIJING ROUNDTABLE ASQ and the China Certification and Accreditation Assn. partnered to host an executive roundtable last month in Beijing. The event focused on the value of quality related certifications. Business leaders from the United States and China, as well as Chinese government officials, were scheduled to attend the event.

Short Runs

THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION has announced a new five-star government rating system that will grade child safety seats on how easy they are to install properly. For more on this topic, visit www.nhtsa.gov.

THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY (NIST) recently delivered its three-year plan for its program to Congress, as required by the America Competes Act passed in August 2007. NIST says the document provides a framework that allows it the flexibility to address immediate national needs, such as voting standards and technology, and IT security. The plan is available at www.nist.gov/director/reports/Final_NIST_3y.pdf (case sensitive).

THE ASSN. FOR MANUFACTURING EXCELLENCE will recognize an organization that uses advanced manufacturing techniques when it presents its Manufacturing Excellence Award at its annual conference. The deadline to apply for the award is June 1. The conference is slated for Oct. 20-24 in Toronto. For details about the award and conference, go to www.ame.org.

DESPITE A DECADE OF IMPORT GROWTH and job loss, the U.S. manufacturing sector remains a vital part of the nation's economy, according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute. Manufacturing supported 14 million jobs last year, or about 10.1% of total employment. The Washington, DC, based think tank also reported that manufacturing industries make up a large share of U.S. economic production, generating a gross domestic product of $1.6 trillion in 2006. Visit www.epi.org/content.cfm/webfeatures_snapshots_20080212 to see more of the report.

AFTER FIVE YEARS, the ISO secretary-general is stepping down from the position. Alan Bryden told the ISO Council he will be available to assist in the search for a successor. The council said it hopes to have a successor in place for the first quarter of 2009.

ASQ'S SERVICE QUALITY DIVISION is accepting applications for the annual A.C. Rosander scholarship award for the 2008-2009 academic year. The scholarship is open to eligible members of the Service Quality Division and their family members. The number of scholarships and the amount awarded is determined each year based on the number of applicants. Applicants must be enrolled at an accredited university. Applications, which include an essay, are due June 2. For an application, visit www.asq.org/service/scholarship/index.html.

A NEW REPORT from the National Institute of Standards and Technology identifies the R&D priorities of three critical high-tech U.S. manufacturing areas: hydrogen energy technologies, nanomanufacturing, and intelligent and integrated manufacturing. The three areas are cited as being important to U.S. economic and national security. For more details on "Manufacturing the Future: Federal Priorities for Manufacturing R&D," visit www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/manufacturing.html.

THE UNIVERSITY OF SAN DIEGO is offering a web based master's degree in supply management, the first such program to be approved by the Institute for Supply Management. The program for professionals currently working in the field takes 26 months to complete and includes three face-to-face sessions a year to supplement online interactions. Visit www.ism.ws/about/mediaroom/newsreleasedetail.cfm?itemnumber=17775 for more details.

Quick Poll Results

Each month at www.qualityprogress.com, readers can take a short, informal survey, and we post the results. Here are the numbers from a recent Quick Poll:

"Should practicing social responsibility and environmental sustainability be considered part of quality management?"

Yes: 80.7%

No: 19.2%

Most Popular

QP's website tallies the number of visitors and the hits each story receives. The following is a recent ranking of the most popular articles.

  • "Architect of Quality," by Mark Edmund.
  • "Quality in the First Person" column: "A Perfect Corrective Action," by Jim Franklin.
  • "One Good Idea" column: "Rapid Brainstorming Brings a Deluge of Ideas," by John Lynch.
  • "2007 Salary Survey," by Hank Lindborg and QP staff.
  • "10 Quality Basics," by many contributing authors.

Date In Quality History

QP looks back on an event or person that made a difference in the history of quality.

May 1, 1946

The Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) was established to promote the "systematic studies needed for the advancement of science and technology." The Japanese government encouraged JUSE's formation to help the country recover from World War II. JUSE connected leaders and experts of large industries to share best practices.

JUSE brought two notable leaders of quality to lecture in Japan in the early 1950s, W. Edwards Deming and Joseph M. Juran. Many consider their visits to be the start of a quality movement that made Japan a quality and economic powerhouse in the late 20th century.

Ichiro Ishikawa was one of JUSE's founders. His son, Kaoru Ishikawa, later led JUSE and encouraged the organization to internalize the teachings of Deming and Juran. Kaoru Ishikawa is considered a leader of the Japanese quality revolution.

JUSE also is known for awarding the Deming Prize, considered one of the world's most prestigious quality awards. First awarded in 1951, these medals commemorate Deming's contribution in promoting quality concepts.

Sources: Free Quality, www.freequality.org, and the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers, www.juse.or.jp/e/.


ASQ Plans Global Transformation Initiative

ASQ is poised to roll out a global transformation initiative designed to create a unified presence for the organization and its members throughout the world.

Pending approval this month by the Board of Directors, ASQ will advance its organizational structure and operations to make it easier for members to learn about and share quality management systems, tools and practices across international borders.

If the proposal is approved, ASQ will begin to respond to growing membership and demands for products and services locally in five key markets:

  • China and India—ASQ already operates offices and employs full-time staff in these countries, and ASQ will accelerate efforts there to increase its presence.
  • Mexico, Brazil and South Korea—More research and planning will be done to establish an ASQ presence in these countries.

Since 1996, ASQ has steadily expanded its global efforts and offerings to meet the growing needs of members throughout the world. Today, ASQ supports members in 120 countries. Training is offered in cities worldwide and in multiple languages. Certifications are translated and administered around the globe.

Response to global membership

In recent years, as more companies expanded globally and more quality professionals looked for local ASQ involvement and services, the society formed an International Transformation Task Force to map out a global transformation plan. The plan is intended to accelerate the organization's ability to respond to member demands and attract new members.

"We really needed to recognize that our global membership is growing and will continue to grow outside the United States," said ASQ President Mike Nichols.

ASQ's intent with this transformation is to better reflect and support the global organizations in which members work, the places where they live and the communities they serve. The evolution also will strengthen ASQ relationships with multinational businesses that seek benefits for their employees, suppliers and customers worldwide.

Board action

The board will review and consider the opportunities and plan, which will address issues such as certifications, learning offerings, community growth, web access and services, and standards.

The task force is expected to recommend a plan to enhance and expand member offerings beginning in July, and initial steps will be adapted and expanded based on needs and opportunities during a three to five-year period.

For more information about the initiative, visit www.asq.org/members/gti/index.html. To submit comments, visit www.asq.org/mr/intl-task-force.html. —Nicole Adrian, contributing editor

Quality by the Numbers


The number of organizations that received the Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence at a conference and awards ceremony in Dallas recently.

Business prize recipients were Baxter International, Cartago, Costa Rica; Carestream Health Inc., Guadalajara, Mexico; Kemet Electronics, Matamoros, Mexico; Kemet Electronics, Victoria, Mexico; Metalworks/Great Openings, Ludington, MI; and ZF Lemforder Corp., Tuscaloosa, AL.

Silver medallion recipients were Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance LLC, Dundee, MI; Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control-Camden Operations, Camden, AR; and Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, Andover, MA.

Organizations receiving the bronze medallion were Carestream

Health Colorado, Converting Operation, Windsor, CO; Delphi Steering, Prototype Operations, Saginaw, MI; and Raytheon Missile Systems, Camden, AR.

Research prize recipients were Jerry Solomon and Rosemary Fullerton for Accounting for World Class Operations (WCM Associates, 2007); Jean Cunningham and Duane Jones, Easier, Simpler Faster—Systems Strategy for Lean IT (Productivity Press, 2007); Pascal Dennis for Getting the Right Things Done (Lean Enterprise Institute, 2006); Allen Ward for Lean Product and Process Development (Lean Enterprise Institute, 2007); Matthew May for The Elegant Solution (Simon and Schuster, 2006); and Mike Martyn and Brad Parker, Applying TWI to Retail Sales (Training Within Industry program).

Information on the revised Shingo Prize model and guidelines can be found at www.shingoprize.org.

Web Watch

This month's Web Watch focuses on product safety.


While ISO 9001 can be used to develop quality management systems for toy manufacturing, ASTM International is the publisher of most of the product standards on toy safety, including ASTM F734-84, which focuses on risk based safety assessments. Using the word "toy," the site's search engine can lead visitors to information and news items about these standards.


The American Society of Safety Engineers' (ASSE's) website has resources for members and nonmembers. Nonmembers can find information on the annual manufacturing safety symposium, a newsroom, a schedule of training opportunities, book reviews and limited access to ASSE publications. Full access to publications is allowed only to members. Membership requires a fee and certain levels of education and experience.


CE Marking is a mandatory safety approval for certain European products, including machinery, electrical equipment, toys, gas appliances and medical devices. This site is full of information on CE Marking for consumers and manufacturers. The most prominent feature is a complete guide of CE Marking regulations and directives. Using either the search engine or the CE directive wizard, users can read the full texts of all the directives.


The European Safety and Reliability Assn. (ESRA) is a nonprofit umbrella organization with a membership consisting of national professional societies, industrial organizations and higher education institutions. ESRA's website has information on becoming a member, conference listings, safety and reliability links, and electronic copies of the ESRA newsletter.

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