Baldridge
Malcolm Baldridge

Madigan Healthcare System Commander Col. Jerry Penner III knows he has a world-class health care facility, and wants to prove it by applying for and obtaining the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award.

The annual Baldridge Award is given by the President of the United States to businesses, education, health care and nonprofit organizations that apply and are judged to be outstanding in seven areas:
Aca,!Ac Leadership - examines how senior executives guide the organization;
Aca,!Ac Strategic planning -examines how the organization sets strategic directions;
Aca,!Ac Customer and market focus - examines how the organization determines requirements and expectations of customers and markets;
Aca,!Ac Measurement, analysis and knowledge management - examines the management, effective use, analysis and improvement of data and information to support key organization processes;
Aca,!Ac Workforce focus - examines how the organization enables its workforce to develop its full potential;
Aca,!Ac Process management - examines aspects of how key production/deliver and support processes are designed, managed and improved;
Aca,!Ac Results - examine the organization's performance and improvement in its key business areas.

The Baldridge award was signed into law Aug. 20, 1987. The award is named after Malcolm Baldridge, who served as Secretary of Commerce from 1981 to 1987. It recognizes organizations for their achievements in quality and performance, and raises awareness about the importance of quality and performance excellence as a competitive edge, according to the Baldridge award Web site. The U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology manages the program. About 80 organizations have earned the award since 1987.

"Madigan has been the ultimate in quality for a couple of decades, but there is no credential like M.D. after its title that lets people know that," Penner said. "Earning the Baldridge award will let the nation know we are a standard-bearer for top-notch quality."

Earning the award will not be easy. Col. Mark Thompson, Madigan's deputy commander for clinical services, said it takes the average organization about 10 years to receive the award. "Going through this process allows us to get feedback from people who are only interested in one thing - the highest quality patient care possible," Thompson said.

Baldridge judges will ascend upon Madigan to review every aspect of the hospital and provide feedback on what to sustain or improve. The major focus they'll look at is the Healthcare and Data Information Set, or HEDIS measures. Health care organizations use this tool as a way to measure performance on important dimensions of care and service. Some of the quality measures HEDIS tracks are controlling high blood pressure, child and adolescent immunization status, diabetes care and breast cancer screening. "The Baldridge award allows us an opportunity to focus on things we think are key factors for delivering quality care and that will require collaboration," Thompson said. "Collaboration between the staff and departments will be critical."

But collaboration won't be enough, as innovation, creation and process improvement play a huge role in the judging, Penner said. "This isn't a change in how we do business, but a change in the way we think about doing business," said the commander. "There will be tweaking and fine-tuning for some of our care delivery methods, but the changes have to make sense."

Madigan is well-suited to apply for such a prestigious award because it has been a world-class health care facility for years now partly due to its patients, Penner said. He specifically referred to the previous year's flu season as an example. Vaccinations for both H1N1 and the seasonal flu were at record or near-record levels, according to Penner. Parents brought their children in for both vaccinations earlier than ever last year. This resulted in dramatically low flu-like illness admissions to the hospital, he added. "This is supposed to be the peak time for influenza, but it just isn't happening here," Penner exclaimed.

If Madigan does receive the Baldridge award, Penner and his command team won't be here to see it. They are scheduled to leave command in the summer of 2011, well short of the time-frame expected to earn the award. That doesn't stop him from setting the lofty goal, however. "I know Madigan's staff want to be leaders, and the only way to prove that is to have the Baldridge award hanging up," Penner said.

And for Penner, it's the staff and patients who deserve the award, not the command team. "The Baldridge award lets our medical peers, Families and Soldiers know that Madigan really is a world-class organization."

Page last updated Tue February 16th, 2010 at 15:26