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Popular Business Performance Excellence Guide Now Available For Healthcare Provider Organizations

Criteria designed to help all healthcare organizations, such as managed care systems, hospitals and home healthcare agencies, improve their services, processes and overall performance are available now from the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology. The criteria are based on the performance excellence criteria for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, managed by NIST in conjunction with the private sector.

"The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award has stimulated continuous improvement and breakthrough performance in many organizations. The Award criteria provide a well-tested approach to help achieve higher levels of excellence. Healthcare organizations could benefit from applying its rigorous criteria in their efforts to improve quality, lower costs and better serve patients," said Robert R. Waller, president and CEO, Mayo Foundation, and a member of the board of directors of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award Foundation.

"The criteria will help healthcare organizations improve performance and will facilitate communication and sharing of best practices," said Harry Hertz, director of the Baldrige Award program at NIST. "The Baldrige performance excellence criteria broadly define the practices that any organization, not just business, need to achieve excellence," said Hertz. "They focus on all aspects of organizational performance results, not just on the tools or techniques that an organization should use to achieve better technical outcomes, financial or administrative results," he said.

Currently, the Baldrige Award is open only to for-profit businesses. President Clinton’s fiscal year 1999 budget proposal includes $2.3 million for new award categories for non-profit education and healthcare organizations. These organizations will be able to apply next year for the award if this funding is approved. In May 1997, the private Foundation for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award announced a $15 million fund drive to raise an endowment to help establish an award program for these two sectors, provided federal funding also is available for support.

In 1995, NIST conducted a successful pilot award program to determine the interest and readiness of healthcare organizations to participate in a Baldrige Award program. Forty-six healthcare organizations submitted applications for the pilot. Lessons learned by the participants included the need for patient-central processes and for improved communication among patients, healthcare staff, administrative staff and other stakeholders. In conjunction with the pilot, NIST distributed over 15,000 copies of healthcare performance excellence criteria modeled after the criteria for the business award. Since then, federal funding has not been available to continue the pilots or to establish award categories.

NIST developed the current performance excellence criteria for healthcare organizations with funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Vetrans Health Administration.

The Baldrige quality program was established by Congress in 1987; the first awards were presented in 1988. The award program’s goals have been to enhance U.S. competitiveness by promoting quality awareness, recognizing quality and business achievements of U.S. companies and publicizing these companies’ successful performance strategies.

As a non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes U.S. economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards. NIST was selected by Congress to design and manage the award program because of its role in helping U.S. companies compete, its world-renowned expertise in quality control and assurance, and its reputation as an impartial third party.

Single copies of the healthcare criteria are available free of charge from NIST by phone, (301) 975-2036, or fax, (301) 948-3716.

NOTE TO EDITORS: To contact Robert Waller, president and CEO, Mayo Foundation (Rochester, Minn.), and Baldrige Foundation Board member, call (507) 284-2663.

Released February 9, 1998, Updated November 27, 2017