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  • 23 Jun 2020 3:13 PM | Sarah Kelly (Administrator)

    By Katie Freeman, IQC

    Many people assume that you can only benefit from implementing a management system if you are (or become) ISO certified. GOOD NEWS!!  Any organization in any industry can benefit from implementing a management system.

    A management system is a set of policies, processes, and procedures used by an organization to ensure fulfillment of the needs and expectations of the customer.  This is a key part of our Audit Fundamentals course!!

    Want to take the next step?  If you take time to plan, implement, and sustain a management system within your organization – here are some considerations for you:

    • Customer focus
    • Engagement of people at all levels of the organization
    • Change management
    • Supplier/Subcontractor management
    • Organization/Process/Product risk management and mitigation
    • Data/Metric evaluation and analysis
    • Product and process verification and validation
    • Process review and improvement

    The best outcome of a well implemented management system is happy customers because their needs are always met.  One of the most important key elements is the review and improvement of the processes and the overall system. Perhaps the best way to achieve this review and improvement is through auditing.

    Auditing may sound daunting, but it is really quite simple, and fun! When you are auditing, you simply are comparing what you are observing to what is “supposed” to be happening and finding the gaps. Once the gaps are identified, then you can work to close the gaps and improve the process.

  • 16 Jun 2020 3:39 PM | Sarah Kelly (Administrator)

    By Karen Kiel Rosser, Mary Greeley Medical Center

    In 2008, Mary Greeley Medical Center began looking for a system of evidence-based quality principles. Every accountant knows the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP, as the evidence-based best practices for finance. We knew we needed something like that for Quality and Performance Excellence at Mary Greeley. It was during a presentation on the Baldrige program at an ACHE conference in 2008 that we realized we had found what we were looking for.

    From the start, we decided our process to document performance improvement would be a long-term priority and not simply an annual goal. Our decade-long journey began not in a single moment, but as a culmination of several. In the over ten years that ensued, this focus on quality has resulted in Mary Greeley Medical Center becoming the first organization in Iowa to receive the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. It also helped us earn Magnet Designation, the nation’s top recognition of nursing quality. We are one of only 12 hospitals in the country to have both honors.

    Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned along this journey.


    Early on, we made the decision not to house our Baldrige efforts in a single department, but rather to expose as many departments as possible to the framework and criteria. We enrolled staff as examiners in the Iowa Recognition for Performance Excellence (IRPE) program. Becoming examiners exposed our staff to the criteria as well as gave them firsthand experience to other organizations striving to radically improve.

    Learning from other Baldrige organizations as well as using the IHI’s improvement philosophy, we developed what we call our Big Dot goals. There are four of them: reducing patient harm; improving patient experience; improving workforce engagement; and achieving a positive operating margin. These goals are on wallet-size cards on which employees can describe how they contribute to these goals. Each goal has a measurement that is tracked both organization-wide and in individual departments.

    We track our progress on our Big Dot Goals on huddle boards displayed in every department across the hospital. Daily huddles are routinely held near these boards during which we stress operations issues, process improvement, and current performance. Using the vernacular of 4DX, a formula for executing on important strategic goals laid out in the book, “The 4 Disciplines of Execution,” departments create lead measures that align with the Big Dot Goals so each staff member understands how their individual work contributes to the organization’s goals.


    Our improvement philosophy is that everyone at Mary Greeley has two roles: Do Our Work and Improve Our Work. To support this, we encourage staff to present improvement ideas through an online system. Additionally, we challenge our leaders to think of innovative ways to reduce costs or generate revenue through the 100-day workout concept.

    We created a quality improvement unit which, among other things, oversees rapid improvement projects designed to literally break down our processes, develops ideas to improve them, and then executes these ideas. Each of these projects involves cross-sections of staff, which further hardwires a culture of improvement throughout the organization.


    We get feedback from our customers in a variety of ways, including hourly rounding, patient surveys, a patient and family advisory council, social media, letters, unsolicited phone calls, and through informal interactions with patients and families. We collect and track these comments through a customer listening system and complaint management process, which enables us to address problems in an efficient and timely manner. It also enables us to monitor trends that indicate larger opportunities for improvement.


    During our IRPE journey, we received Gold-level recognition in 2014 and 2017. We remain the only Iowa organization to reach this top level twice. We have continued to submit our application to the IRPE program even when we are not award-eligible because we receive valuable feedback that helps us remain focused on the process. We also continue to recruit staff to be IRPE examiners. To date we have over 80 years of combined examiner experience!

    While we take pride in the honors received for our quality, the real impact of our efforts can be seen in the measurable quality of our care and the opinions of our patients and employees.

    Our key measurements are in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) top decile, including 30-day readmissions, 30-day mortality, incidence of preventable blood clots, and compliance with sepsis practices, influenza vaccinations, stroke bundle, and outpatient imaging measures.

    Inpatient satisfaction, as measured by HCAHPS, has been at or above top-decile performance since 2016. More than 75 percent of inpatients and outpatients would recommend Mary Greeley to others, representing top-decile or near-top-decile levels.

    Close to the National Research Corporation top decile, 75 percent of employees “talk up” the organization as a great place to work. Meanwhile, physician engagement ranks in the 82nd percentile.

    Our ten-year journey has had a significant impact on our patients and families and staff, and it does not end. The Baldrige framework has become the standard practice for how we do our work – and improve our work. It has allowed us to document, standardize, and improve some of the most complex and seemingly impossible-to-document processes in our healthcare system. Most importantly, it has enabled us to provide continually improving care to our patients.

  • 9 Jun 2020 6:00 PM | Sarah Kelly (Administrator)

    By Scott Burgmeyer

    Many people ask me about continuous improvement and what the best method is, how they should approach it, when, etc.  My answer is ALWAYS – it depends.  There are several methods – Six Sigma, Lean, Toyota Production System, Lean Sigma, make your own, and so many more. 

    If you are thinking it’s time to start, here are some key questions you need to ask:

    • What are we trying to accomplish with CI?
    • Who is asking to do CI? Leadership? Others?
    • Do we have a budget for it?
    • What support structure do we need?
    • Have we done this before?  If so, what happened?
    • What model fits our culture today AND can grow with us as we evolve?

    The last two questions are the most important.  If you were not successful before, what prevented success?  What will you do to change that this time?  If you haven’t done it before, what will make you successful this time?

    Evolution is crucial to think about. Getting stuck in one method and set of tools will create CI Confusion as you evolve.  One key role for the CI professional is to, as JoAnn Sterke says, “support people to get better at getting better.”  Understanding what you are trying to solve, the history of what has or hasn’t been tried, and visioning the future is a key step to starting CI, and realizing success in the end.

  • 3 Jun 2020 10:00 AM | Sarah Kelly (Administrator)

    Coaching is not just for sports anymore!!

    For any of you who have had a great coach in the past--in sports or in business--congratulations!!  Years ago an organization invested in me by hiring an executive coach.  This experience was grueling, reflective, fun, and it developed me well beyond what I realized I could do.  When people ask me what coaching is – it is hard to explain.  There are sooooooo many perspectives out there, and I want to share mine.

    In the simplest of definitions, a coach is someone who supports you from getting from point A to point B.  This can be in your personal, fitness, or business life.  From my perspective, the key components of a great coach are:

    • Coaches don’t talk, they LISTEN
    • Coaches don’t give information, they ask REALLY DEEP questions.
    • Coaches don’t overshare, they tap into the client’s experience.
    • Coaches don’t give solutions, they EXPAND the client’s thinking.
    • Coaches don’t give recommendations, they empower clients to CHOOSE.

    The most powerful aspect of coaching is when the coach holds the mirror up to you and CHALLENGES your thinking and perspective.  The value of this expansion of your mind, perspective, and talent is priceless.

  • 3 Jun 2020 8:00 AM | Sarah Kelly (Administrator)

    Welcome to our first IQC blog. It’s very exciting to take our next step of offerings and connecting with fellow Iowans. 

    As we rounded out our strategic plan for 2020 and 2021, one of our goals was to become more visible and connect with IQC members and organizations.  Through the use of virtual mediums, classes, and new offerings, we have taken a strong step forward.

    Our next step in our strategy is to expand our website to include enhanced member content, blogs, vlogs, and resources for you on your journey.

    I am excited to share this next step with you.  Let’s Journey Together!!

    Scott Burgmeyer

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