Henry Ford Health Wins National Award

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(Courtesy of The Detroit News)

Strong fiscal health, high customer satisfaction ratings cited

The Henry Ford Health System is one of four organizations nationwide and the only one in Michigan to win a prestigious presidential award recognizing organizational excellence and quality, the Detroit-based group said Tuesday.

The health system has been named a recipient of the 2011 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, along with two other health care organizations and a nonprofit group. They will accept their awards in April in Washington, D.C.

Receiving the award validates that Henry Ford Health System has demonstrated a standard of excellence, said Nancy Schlichting, CEO of the health system.

“From a patient perspective, that should give patients confidence that we have strong internal processes, that we have a focus on continuous improvement and that we are able to demonstrate very strong results,” she said.

Henry Ford is at least the third Michigan company to win the award. Applicants were evaluated by an independent board in seven areas: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis and knowledge management; work force focus; operations focus; and results.

Baldrige examiners visited Henry Ford over four days in October, spending time at three dozen medical sites and interviewing executives and more than 1,200 employees. Examiners praised Henry Ford for things such as its quality performance in core areas measured by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, maintaining strong fiscal health, boosting inpatient market share, reducing patient harm events and its high customer satisfaction ratings.

“This would have never have happened without the 30,000 people within our health system, including our 24,000 employees, our physicians, our volunteers, our board members,” Schlichting said.

The Baldrige Award is named for Malcolm Baldrige, the nation’s 26th secretary of commerce, who died in a rodeo accident. Congress created the award after his death in 1987 to enhance U.S. business competiveness and performance. Organizations including manufacturers, services, small businesses, education, health care, nonprofits and government agencies are eligible, and 90 have received awards since 1988. The program is managed by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Last year, seven organizations, including one hospital, received the Baldrige.

This year, 69 organizations applied for the award and 11 received a final review that included site visits. Six of the 11 site visits were at health care organizations, including Oakwood Healthcare Inc. in Dearborn.

Oakwood President and CEO Brian Connolly said it was a special achievement for Oakwood to be selected for a Baldrige visit.

“To have two health systems in one market be recognized like this is unheard of. It’s a real win for Michigan,” he said in a statement. “We congratulate Henry Ford Health System on their Baldrige recognition, and we look forward to continuing on our journey of excellence.”

Schlichting said she got a call Monday — on her birthday — from a Commerce Department official telling her the health system had won.

“It was the best birthday present I think I ever had,” she said.


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