A newly released study* comparing 34 U.S. health care organizations that received the Baldrige National Quality Award with their 153 geographically closest competitors found that the Baldrige Award recipients matched or exceeded their competitors' measures of health care quality and outperformed them in measures of favorable patient experience.
The study, conducted by Ron Schulingkamp of Loyola University New Orleans and John R. Latham of Leadership Plus Design Ltd. (Monument, Colo.), appears in the latest issue of Quality Management Journal (QMJ), a peer-reviewed publication of the American Society for Quality (ASQ).
Schulingkamp and Latham examined results data for 39 measures that U.S. hospitals publicly report to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The 39 measures include 23 for health care processes, 10 for patient experience and six for outcomes of health care provided. The patient-experience results data come from Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Services (HCAHPS) surveys of patients.
The study included all organizations in the health care sector that received the Baldrige Award, the nation's highest honor recognizing organizational performance excellence and innovation, between 2002 and 2011. (U.S. health care organizations became eligible to apply for the Baldrige Award in 1999, with the first health care honoree, SSM Health Care, named in 2002.) The study's comparison group included all competing hospitals within a 25- to 50-mile radius of the Baldrige Award winners.
"The HCAHPS patient survey results were the most significant findings in this study," Schulingkamp and Latham state in their paper. "Hospitals that used the [Baldrige Health Care Criteria for Performance Excellence, abbreviated by the study authors as HCPE] had higher means and lower standard deviations [indicating a measurable positive patient experience] than the non-HCPE hospitals in all 10 measures." The authors also report that the differences were statistically significant for nine of those 10 measures, showing that there is a definite positive impact on patient experience with use of the criteria.
"These results add to the growing evidence that the HCPE are a valid framework to align organizational design, strategy, systems, and human capital to create long-term effectiveness in an institutionalized high-performance culture," the authors noted. They also remarked that the criteria provide a systems approach "to excellence as the patient sees it."
According to Schulingkamp and Latham, better management of the patient experience using the Baldrige framework yields additional benefits for a health care organization. They report that favorable patient experience as measured by patients who "would definitely recommend the hospital" has been linked to repeat and referral business and, in turn, financial performance.
Finally, Schulingkamp and Latham feel that their findings have important implications for the future of health care in the United States. "The results of this study help validate the effectiveness of the [Baldrige Health Care Criteria] as a framework to achieve performance excellence and meet the continuously increasing stakeholder requirements related to value," they say. They suggest that the criteria provide "an effective framework for transforming an organization to address the ACA [Affordable Care Act] and CMS changes to healthcare."
The Baldrige Health Care Criteria for Performance Excellence, part of the Baldrige Excellence Framework, are revised every two years by the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. Copies of the 2015–2016 Baldrige Excellence Framework (Health Care), which includes the criteria, are available for purchase on the Baldrige Program website.
A single free copy of the subscriber-only access QMJ article is available upon request to members of the media via the contact listed with this article.