MHA students investigate new quality management system

A team of five candidates for the Master of Health Administration (MHA) degree from the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health investigated a new quality management system, using UI Hospitals and Clinics as a reference institution. The students, Zach Brennan, Sasha Manouchehripour, Shannon McCarthy, Kylor Sorensen, and Lauren Waggoner, evaluated the Quality Management System for Health Care (QMSHC) for their Hospital Organization Management and Consulting class project. The QMSHC was recently published by the Quality Management and Health Care divisions of the American Society for Quality (ASQ).

A quality management system coordinates the activities of an organization to produce a characteristic set of behaviors that achieves predictable and dependable performance that consistently meet the expectations of the organization’s customers. Quality management systems are common in many industries, including the packaged foods industry and high-tech manufacturing. They are less common in the health care industry. The best known quality management system is International Standards Organization (ISO) 9000, used by hundreds of organizations worldwide. ISO 9001 for Healthcare was introduced in 2008, and a few health care organizations in the U.S. use it for their accreditation by DNV Healthcare, a competitor of The Joint Commission which has CMS Deeming authority in the U.S.

The ASQ Quality Management and Health Care divisions decided to combine their expertise to produce the QMSHC framework, which consists of three concentric circles, with exceptional quality, safety, and patient outcomes at the center. However, this framework needed to be further developed to be useful to hospitals wanting to implement the QMSHC. The University of Iowa’s student team tackled the task of expanding the QMSHC to a greater level of detail. They visited the UI Hospitals and Clinics Department of Pathology and the UI DeGowin Blood Center, both of which operate under robust quality management systems based on the Quality System Essentials of the Clinical Laboratory Standards Institute. They also investigated the interconnections between the ten major elements of the QMSHC and discovered that a core of interconnections focused around teamwork, information management, and risk management are essential to a successful quality management system. Using both their knowledge of health care systems and their learnings from pathology and the DeGowin Blood Center, the students created a list of 120 questions that hospital leaders can use to develop their quality system based on the QMSHC. A paper describing their project has been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication.

Team spokesperson Kylor Sorensen noted, “While quality management systems are less common in health care, our team found ample opportunities for organizations to adopt and implement the QMSHC framework. Despite the limited literature available, we believe there is plenty of opportunity to expand on our findings. As health care systems continue to face budget constraints, payments tied to quality, and doing more with less, hospitals can position themselves by using QMSHC—to help reduce variation, enhance standardization, and improve the overall quality for patients and their families. Implementing a QMSHC framework into a health care organization will help employees plan and execute essential processes that enhance overall patient satisfaction.”

“Our team project also solidified the concept that collaboration in consulting can bring results with greater success. Furthermore, collaborating on solutions with my colleagues has been very rewarding. We are thankful for UI Hospitals and Clinics’ cooperation, access, and insights into their organizational structure.”

The students were mentored in their project by Prof. Xi Zhu of the Department of Health Management and Policy, and Tom Persoon from the UI Hospitals and Clinics Office of Operations Excellence.