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Total Quality Management in Healthcare

According to BusinessDictionary.com, Total Quality Management (TQM) is a process of continuous improvement in an organization to reach long-term success through the transformation of the organization through progressive changes within the organization by its employees’ attitudes and practices, as well as its organizational structure and systems. Additionally, TQM involves every aspect of an organization’s functions such as administration, accounting, communications, marketing, planning, etc. (Total Quality Management).

As discussed by Finn, Baker, Marshall & Anderson (1996), TQM involves the concept that everyone within an organization is an internal customer of each other which means that employees are to treat each other as valued customers. Additionally, TQM also extends out to the external customers of an organization as well, and includes clients, vendors, the general public, other companies, etc.

TQM initiatives are a goal of various types of organizations such as healthcare organizations. An effective model of TQM used for healthcare organizations is based on the industrial model which focuses organizational improvement on key processes and developing a strategic plan for long-term quality as part of the business plan (Brigham, 1993). The industrial model for TQM involves complete employee inclusion, especially in the interest of new ideas from them. This leads to success which builds confidence within the organization. Additionally, the industrial model includes strong customer focus of both internal and external customers (Brigham, 1993).

As it relates to the healthcare industry, TQM is important for the efficiency and success of the healthcare delivery system. In comparison to the industrial model for TQM, the healthcare industry also focuses on improving processes and internal and external customer-focused service as well. In contrast, the healthcare industry’s TQM initiatives differ from that of the industrial model in the sense it may not be as easily translated into healthcare processes. For example, Brigham (1993) points out healthcare facilities most successful with the implementation of TQM plans include processes to deal with critical processes, clinical quality and doctor retention. Heavy physician involvement is necessary for addressing core processes in the healthcare setting.

The features of a TQM plan in healthcare include measuring the success of quality efforts and analyzing the results. For example, Mills & Rorty (2002) report results from a TQM mapping of components of a healthcare delivery system as it relates to payers of healthcare plans. It was noted that the perspective of the enrollees and patients is sometimes shifted away when it comes to total quality management techniques. This results from quality being based on the priorities of the payer organizations, rather than according to patient criteria. This is significant when measuring consumer satisfaction. If the consumer is left out of the loop, then TQM efforts fail.

Consequently, the utilization of teams is a vital part of the successful TQM strategic plan with the basic concept of continuous quality improvement at the forefront. This takes into account that, as it relates to TQM, the primary focus of each function within an organization should be applying TQM techniques to the healthcare delivery system, knowing that the final say on quality belongs to the patients, who are the customers who chose to purchase the services of the organization.

References

Brigham, S. E. (1993). TQM: Lessons We Can Learn from Industry. Change. 25(3), 42-48.

Finn, D. W., Baker, J., Marshall, G. W., & Anderson, R. A.. (1996, Summer). Total Quality Management (TQM) and Marketing. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 4(3), 36-51.

Mills, A. E. & Rorty, M. V. (2002, October). Total Quality Management and the Silent Patient. Business Ethics Quarterly, 12(4), 481-504.

Total Quality Management (TQM). (n.d.). Retrieved from BusinessDictionary.com: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/total-quality-management-TQM.html