Seven-year journey leads to highest quality honor for hospital

After a seven-year quest, Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center in Jasper, Indiana, has won a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest honor for performance excellence and quality achievement.

The 137-bed hospital has the distinction of being one of five recipients of the 2018 Baldrige Award—the four other winners come from education, nonprofits and small businesses.

For these winners, the Baldrige process starts with a framework developed at the Department of Commerce that helps organizations determine what type of improvements they want to focus on.

The beauty of the framework is that it enables an organization to take a bite out of time—when there is time permitting—while the core work of the organization continues, explains Lori Persohn, Memorial’s director of organizational excellence.

“The framework keeps you on track,” says Persohn. “For seven years, we moved toward meeting Baldrige requirements and put resources in for the journey.”

Each year, Baldrige tells each participating organization what areas of their program they did well during the past year, and where they need improvements. This exercise includes a 90-day effort to carry out the organization’s strategy, such as how to develop a team as well as goals and ways to reach those objectives.

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The Baldrige 90-day exercise has been adopted at Memorial Hospital for its new initiatives. These 90 days are a finite measure of time with a commitment to finish, yet if the scope needs to change during the initiative, there still is time to make the change or decide to redefine the program, says Gary Light, chief information officer at Memorial.

“Identify progress each week; this can’t be put on the back burner,” Light contends. “If there is new information or obstacles and the administration needs to make course calculations, it can be done.”

Most recently, a goal at the hospital was to recruit family residents coming out of medical school to Jasper, and 70 of the residents initially stayed in the area—the challenge now will to keep them in the region, Light adds.

Another core focus has been a “knowledge management” program that strives to ensure data is secured and managed in the event of a tornado or cyberattack. Consequently, data is backed up and replicated in a cloud platform. One more focus area is on outcomes with an emphasis on what processes are making a difference in improving outcomes and what that success ultimately looks like.

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The hospital regularly conducts education programs on cybersecurity, particularly by measuring workforce susceptibility to phishing attacks and has found success, according to Light.

“We were at a 65 percent susceptible rate and now have a 6-7 percent susceptibility rate to malware and want to get it down to 3 percent,” says Light.

Those who are successfully “phished” in these exercises receive a message that they were deceived and are provided with information on how to avoid a repeat performance.

“In all your projects, focus on results,” Light advises. “It’s easy to get bogged down in the daily busy work, so have scorecards on all initiatives and review them regularly.”

Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center is no stranger to receiving industry accolades. For the past nine years, it has been among the nation’s top 5 hospitals for outstanding patient experience, according to Healthgrades.

The organization in 2018 was also in the top 100 for medical excellence in heart failure treatment by CareChex, a quality-rating system, as well as top 100 for patient safety for joint replacement, top 10 percent for pneumonia and orthopedic care, and top 10 percent for patient safety, surgical care and patient satisfaction.

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