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The Official Baldrige Blog

Sustaining Successful Innovation Through Technology

Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation – Mountain Valley (now Mountain Valley of Cascadia) QE Speaker blog photo of an employee helping an elderly woman.
Credit: Mountain Valley of Cascadia

head shot of Maryruth Butler
Maryruth Butler
Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation – Mountain Valley (now Mountain Valley of Cascadia)
2016 Baldrige Award Recipient
When it received the Baldrige Award in 2016, Kindred - Mountain Valley (now Mountain Valley of Cascadia) had the distinct honor of seven consecutive years of five-star quality ratings—the highest possible—from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS; less than 1 percent of skilled nursing facilities nationwide achieved the five-star rating over that same period of time). Now, a few years later, Executive Director Maryruth Butler explains that the skilled nursing center in rural Idaho has continued to sustain quality of care and customer satisfaction in the top 10% of the nation. And one of the ways that Mountain Valley of Cascadia has continued its excellence is through an innovative use of technology.

At the Baldrige Program’s annual Quest for Excellence® Conference in April, Butler will present how Mountain Valley of Cascadia sustains successful innovation through technology and continues to use the Baldrige Excellence Framework. At the conference, Butler will also receive a Leadership Excellence Award from the Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. 

In an interview, Butler discussed her upcoming presentation and thoughts and tips for other organizations on using the Baldrige framework.

What will participants learn at your conference session?

Sustaining successful innovation through technology--as well as using technology to meet the health care needs of our customers in a rural area—will be part of the learning; for example, how Mountain Valley of Cascadia identified the need and developed telemedicine to include wound care and geriatric psych. Also shared will be how the health care organization uses technology for communication with families, including short- and long-term residents with social media connections and iPads.

What are your top tips for using Baldrige resources? 

  1. Jump right in to organizational performance improvement--quit saying we will do and start doing!
  2. Understand your organization. Responding to the questions in the Baldrige Organizational Profile was very beneficial for us as a team to identify our core competencies, strategic challenges, and strategic advantages.
  3. Understand your key organizational success factors through responding to the Baldrige Criteria. Your key organizational success factors will help you know how to achieve success and sustain it through a performance improvement process. Also, learn how to select key performance measures to give you actionable data on which to base organizational decisions. 
  4. Learn effective methods to communicate with your workforce and customers. Baldrige resources can help you identify which tools work best for which group by measuring a group’s response to ensure you are obtaining desired outcomes.

What’s happened at your organization in the years since receiving the Baldrige Award? 

We continued seeking performance excellence and have several proud achievements:

  • Successful and effective succession planning
  • Sustained quality of care in the top 10% of the nation
  • Sustained customer satisfaction in the top 10% of the nation
  • Low turnover of workforce

Can you share an example of your success since receiving the award?

As the result of nursing centers that have been fined for providing poor quality of care, the federal government now makes available technology grants. To improve the quality of lives for our residents through technology, our center has applied for and received $40,000 of those funds through two grants, with a third one in progress.

Working with the Baldrige framework really taught our senior leaders how to identify strategic opportunities relating to technology and how to listen and learn from our customer.

Our Innovation Implementation Process has grown and improved through many cycles of evaluation and improvement that have resulted in sustained quality care and customer satisfaction outcomes.

What are a few key reasons that you think organizations in your sector can benefit from using the Baldrige Excellence Framework?

The American Health Care Association (AHCA), a nonprofit federation of state health organizations, representing more than 13,500 nursing facility, assisted living, developmentally disabled, and subacute care providers, has evidence to support that, in general, if skilled nursing centers work with the Baldrige Excellence Framework they rate better in the following:

  • Above the national average in low hospital readmissions, discharges back to the community, and reduction of falls and pressure ulcers
  • Nearly 45% of AHCA/National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) Silver and Gold recipients have received five-star CMS quality ratings. (The AHCA/NCAL program offers long-term care organizations a Baldrige-based award program.)
  • Better preparation for CMS programs, including Quality Assurance Performance Improvement (QAPI), a quality management system for nursing homes based on five key elements of effective quality management


Join us for the Quest for Excellence Conference April 7-10, 2019.

Quest for Excellence® Conference

NATIONAL HARBOR | April 7–10, 2019
Join us for the 31st Annual Quest for Excellence Conference showcasing the best practices of the 2018 Baldrige Award recipients!


Sunday, April 7
Join us Sunday evening for the Award Ceremony and Reception honoring the 2018 recipients.

Register Now | Book Your Hotel Room


About the author

Dawn Bailey

Dawn Bailey is a writer/editor for the Baldrige Program and involved in all aspects of communications, from leading the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to managing the direction of case studies, social media efforts, and assessment teams. She has more than 25 years of experience, 18 years at the Baldrige Program. Her background is in English and journalism, with degrees from the University of Connecticut and an advanced degree from George Mason University.

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