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Healthcare Quality Professionals: Time To Hire Professional Process Engineers in Healthcare

July 16, 2014
by Mark Hagland
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The ASQ’s Dr. Joseph Fortuna shares his perspectives on the professionalizing of quality improvement in healthcare

At all levels from the top down, they need to become aware that there is an entire science of process improvement, of quality improvement, and realize that that is at the cutting edge of getting better. And they need to incorporate those tools. And more importantly, get those professionals who know how to do it right, involved, and not at a low level where they’re subject to the whims of the medical and nursing directors, or anyone else; put them into positions of authority. Hospitals are beginning to hire chief quality officers. And in my view, they should not be doctors or nurses with a little training. It’s not about the old quality assurance, what used to happen in the auto industry, with final inspections when the cars are completed. Real quality improvement starts much farther upstream. It’s the Deming approach of, do it right the first time. And you don’t have to go back and do inspections. Most of our quality efforts in healthcare are still of the “inspection” variety, done retrospectively, after the injury or error has occurred. And we have to prevent errors and waste to begin with, not retrospectively. So we need to train doctors and nurses and everybody else in healthcare.

What should CIOs and CMIOs do, in their roles, to promote quality improvement?

Healthcare IT leaders have got to not only choose an EMR, but need to “Lean out” the environment and make sure there’s as little waste as possible before you implement, because after you implement, it’s too late.

Do you have anything else you’d like to add?

I am particularly saddened by the bias and prejudice against professional process engineers, and we’ve got to do something about that.

 

 

 

 

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