In this three-part blog series on the 2021 Baldrige Award recipients’ leadership presentations at the 33rd Quest for Excellence® Conference (April 3–6, 2022), senior leaders of the three new national role models share best practices and stories of how they achieved excellence.
Mid-America Transplant (MT) is a private, nonprofit organ procurement organization (OPO) and an eye and tissue bank serving 84 counties in three states (Missouri, Illinois, and Arkansas), with a combined population of 4.7 million.
Exemplifying its mission “we save lives through excellence in organ and tissue donation,” MT works with 124 partner hospitals, ranging from urgent care facilities to major trauma centers. Through this 15+-year partnership, MT procures donated organs and tissues and then provides them to transplant centers and tissue processors, both in its designated service area and across the country.
With an annual gross revenue of approximately $80 million and a workforce of about 200 employees, MT operates from its headquarters in St. Louis, MO.
“Our primary goals are to provide professional and public education and awareness for organ donation across the country,” said MT's president and CEO Diane Brockmeier at the 33rd Quest® for Excellence Conference, following the April 3 Baldrige Award Ceremony where MT was honored with its second Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for excellence.
To succeed in those efforts and facilitate the donation process, MT’s work is guided by three founding principles:
In 2003, MT adopted the Baldrige Excellence Framework with the goal of saving more lives. Between 2003 and 2020, these guidelines helped MT improve its processes and outcomes to increase the number of lifesaving organs transplanted by 167% and increase the impact of tissue donation by 385%
“Every day, these [Baldrige Excellence Framework] guidelines remind us to raise the bar for our work on behalf of the donor families and transplant patients we serve. The Baldrige approach has truly changed the way we work, empowering our team to align resources; think and act strategically; and engage colleagues, partners, and stakeholders in our lifesaving mission.” —Diane Brockmeier, president and CEO of Mid-America Transplant
MT faces a unique situation in its work. More than 30,000 deaths occur in hospitals today, all of which get called into MT’s communications center. In taking all of those calls, MT identified that only in less than 1% of the cases is the individual actually eligible to become an organ donor. Meanwhile, more than 100K people across the nation are waiting for an organ or tissue transplant (including more than 1,200 in the St. Louis community alone, where MT is based).
This is a serious challenge for MT’s staff members, who work tirelessly to ensure that each organ donation opportunity happens. They also aim to expand MT's influence across the industry, while leveraging its core competencies of relationship management excellence and visionary leadership.
Brockmeier detailed the following additional challenges that MT has successfully managed:
MT’s performance measurement system is foundational to its success, Brockmeier explained. It encompasses key factors, such as integrating work processes, evaluating organizational performance, supporting continuous improvement and innovation, and enabling the successful adoption of change.
“Before adopting the framework, we would have good years and not so good years and didn’t know why. As we fine-tuned our processes, we asked things like: How do we measure success? What does effective leadership look like? and What are we doing to benefit society? Anything you do that can be measured is repeatable, drives results, and makes you a stronger organization with improved outcomes.” —Diane Brockmeier, Mid-America Transplant
MT's performance measurement system is built on an empowering model:
MT has leveraged this model and its strategic thinking process, while including all of its stakeholders, to become the very best organization it can be. And over time, it has identified the team elements that are most important to its online success—such as a mission-driven workforce, visionary leadership, good financial stewardship, relationship management, and a culture of performance improvement inside the entire organization.
MT also realized that equally important are the key factors that bring challenges to the organization, several of which were described earlier. MT has brought those factors into its strategic thinking process and identified ways to mitigate them, as it continues working toward its 2025 goal to be recognized as the leading OPO and impact 250K lives in its service area.
View more processes and results of Mid-America Transplant.
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The Baldrige Excellence Framework has empowered organizations to accomplish their missions, improve results, and become more competitive. It includes the Criteria for Performance Excellence, core values and concepts, and guidelines for evaluating your processes and results.