Leadership, integrity, quality, innovation—the core values of the American College of Radiology—echo the basic tenets and Core Values and Concepts of the Baldrige Excellence Framework and its Criteria.
And according to a Baldrige examiner who is also a radiologist, the Baldrige framework and radiologists could have a very beneficial, symbiotic relationship. Radiologists have learned expertise in a variety of key Baldrige Criteria areas, including operations and knowledge management, as well as the importance of a systems perspective, and the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program offers a framework that includes all the core areas that radiologists—as well other professionals—need to address about their organizations to bring about and sustain results.
As a diagnostic radiologist, interpreting x-rays, cat scans, and ultra sounds, Jim Rawson, a radiologist at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, said he has worked on quality improvement, informatics, process improvement, patient satisfaction, and strategic planning—many core areas that overlap with the Baldrige framework and its Criteria.
“If you look at the Baldrige Criteria, I think what you see is that there are areas within the Criteria that radiologists have already gotten exposure to,” he said. In an area like operations (category 6 of the Baldrige Criteria), radiologists have actually been using digital workflow for many years, and most radiologists have worked on multiple systems before clinical and inpatient records were converted to electronic health records, he said, adding that most radiologists already have a good working knowledge of information technology and informatics as it relates to health care.
“What the Baldrige framework does is it asks the questions that you should be able to answer about your organization. So, if you’re thinking about the profession of radiology, there are core areas that you need to address; for example, leadership, strategic planning, operations, workforce—whether you are practicing or from a professional society. What Baldrige does is it provides a nice framework,” said Rawson.
He added that the other side of the coin is that radiologists would bring helpful working knowledge to the Board of Examiners for the Baldrige Program. According to Rawson, radiologists should get more involved in the program because they bring expertise in operations, knowledge management, and a variety of areas that are part of the Baldrige Criteria, and they could be very helpful in working within the Baldrige Program to help organizations improve and sustain results, especially within the health care sector. (By 2018, 65 percent of hospitals included in the FUTURESCSAN Survey (PDF) by the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development and the American Hospital Association are likely to use the Baldrige Criteria as a systematic framework for performance improvement or as an internal assessment tool. In addition, 41 percent of hospitals said that they planned to submit an application for the Baldrige Award or for a state Baldrige-based program.)
“When you look at the results category in Baldrige, there are a lot of metrics. The significance of a measurement and how it can be optimized or how it can be presented, I think, are all areas where many radiologists could make contributions,” Rawson said.
Another key area in the Baldrige Criteria that radiologists, among other professionals, understand is the importance of a systems perspective—the notion that everything in an organization is interrelated and interdependent. Rawson said in health care, a systems perspective is especially important, particularly when considering quality improvements.
“If you don’t look at a big picture view (a systems view), you simply move problems to someplace else, or you fix part of a problem and cause a different problem in another area,” Rawson said. “Whether you are looking at population health or at the health care provided by a single organization, you need to take a more broad view. And the systems approach really provides insights to get better results.”
The value of Baldrige transcends radiology and can be applied across many professions and types of organizations.
According to Rawson, “I think one of the things that is very valuable about Baldrige is that it’s not prescriptive. It’s not telling you how to do things. It’s asking you how you are approaching and what your processes are from multiple, important aspects of your organization, and if you can’t answer those questions, that tells you where you need to start and what you need to do. If you can answer them, then you go to the next level of questions and the next level of detail, and that allows you to continue to grow as an organization.”
He added, “I think health care needs that type of structure. I think health care would benefit from that type of a structured approach.”
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