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OM in the News: A New View of TQM in Hospitals

August 4, 2016
The atrium of the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital

The atrium of the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital

At the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital outside Detroit, patients arrive to uniformed valets and professional greeters. Wi-Fi is free and patient meals are served on demand 24 hours a day. Members of the spa staff give in-room massages and other treatments.

While clinical care is the focus of any medical center, hospitals have many incentives to move toward hotel-inspired features, services and staff training. And competing on the amenities is all the more important because there is so little reliable comparative data on hospitals’ medical outcomes. “In the absence of hard data on cancer treatment or surgery success, patients may look to the quality of the hospital’s environment,” writes The New York Times (Aug.2, 2016).

In 2009, a 24-hour room service at Henry Ford West Bloomfield was introduced instead of set meal schedules. Similarly, patients at the more than 50 Henry Ford Medical outpatient centers in the region can choose the time and location of many tests, procedures and appointments using an online system modeled on airline reservation portals. When it was introduced in 2014, cancellation and no-show rates dropped immediately.

At Henry Ford West Bloomfield, scores from federally mandated surveys show that the evolving features at the hospital have helped to improve its customer satisfaction ratings and make patients more likely to recommend the hospital to others. Length of stay and readmission rates have also decreased, which allows more beds to open up and the hospital to treat more patients. Indeed, a study by Deloitte found that hospitals with higher patient experience ratings were generally more profitable than those with lower scores. “Hospitals want to create a loyal customer base,” says an industry expert.

Classroom discussion questions:

  1. Referring to the Global Company Profile featuring Arnold Palmer Hospital (see Ch. 6), what techniques does Arnold Palmer use that are not noted in the Henry Ford article?
  2. Why is it hard to measure hospital quality?
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