Baldrige and the Impact of Obamacare

Steve George2. Strategy, 3. Customer Focus, 6. Operations Focus, Articles, Baldrige Process, HealthcareLeave a Comment


The implementation of the Affordable Care Act will stress a health care system that is already under the strain of an aging baby boomer population. New patients are expected to flood the system starting in early 2014, part of 25 million uninsured Americans projected to get health coverage by 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

In “The Waiting Room Is About to Get Crowded” (BloombergBusinessweek), John Tozzi looks to Massachusetts, which passed a law similar to Obamacare in 2006, for an idea of what to expect. Massachusetts has more doctors per capita than any other state yet, according to a recent survey, Boston has the longest wait times of 15 U.S. cities: almost double the next longest in Denver.

The article suggests that some practices are preparing for the onslaught of new patients by adding capacity, but there are only so many doctors and nurses to go around. To help manage the rapidly approaching “new normal,” high-performing hospitals and medical centers across the country are integrating the Baldrige model:

  • Baldrige helps leaders develop robust strategic plans that reveal an organization’s key challenges and advantages, core competencies, risks to sustainability, blind spots, and ability to execute the plan. It guides the deployment of that plan throughout the organization to make sure everyone is focused on what must happen for the organization to succeed.
  • Baldrige engages physicians and staff in focusing on patients, developing innovative approaches, and achieving the organization’s action plans. It helps leaders identify and address the critical factors that affect workforce engagement, including learning and development and career progression, that will help physicians and staff provide quality health care despite growing demands.
  • Baldrige increases capacity by making processes more efficient and effective. For example, Southcentral Foundation, a 2011 Baldrige Award recipient, used the Baldrige model to significantly improve same-day access to care, which helped it cut costly emergency room and urgent care visits by 50 percent, specialty care by about 65 percent, primary care visits by 36 percent, and hospital admissions by 53 percent. It added capacity by improving the performance of its processes.

Organizations that seek proven options for strengthening their management systems, especially at a time when those systems face growing pressure, turn to Baldrige because it addresses the entire system. It helps leaders identify the most critical areas to improve and take immediate actions to enhance performance. As the Baldrige model becomes integrated into the way organizations do business, leaders gain control over all of the elements that contribute to performance excellence.

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