Posted by: knightbird | May 1, 2012

Quality Assurance in the Other (non-Lean) World

I just read this Quality Assurance goal from an organization that does not use Lean management:

“The QA Manager is developing a AAAHC calendar for committees and tasks so that we consistently apply quality assurance over the 3-year accreditation period. In addition to helping directors fine-tune goals, the QA team is developing a set of quality improvement projects for the clinic.”

Now I always applaud improvement efforts. However, this particular goal is related to the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC), has oversight by a QA Manager to help “fine-tune goals” and is developing a set of “quality improvement projects” for the clinic. I prefer to see our goals related to the needs of our customers. If they satisfy our customer need for 100% quality, they will satisfy any accrediting standard existing today.

I maintain that Quality is every employee’s job and that the best way to achieve high quality is through continuous improvement with frequent Kaizen and the development of standard work taught to every employee in the value stream. One can certainly target the highest need processes for early Kaizen. However, to have a QA team develop the projects isn’t lean. We don’t “apply quality assurance,” we live it through our employees. They have to want to deliver high quality services every day, and achieve the standard work they have identified with improvement at every opportunity.

I am praying for the day that our tribal health system wakes up and understands that their everyday line employee is the key to achieving outstanding value for our customers. When they are taken out of the blame and shame culture, taught to investigate facts without judgment and to continuously improve their processes with the tools of lean, we will shake the healthcare universe up with incredibly health and happy customers.

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