Adventist HealthCare Earns Recognition from the Prestigious Baldrige Excellence Program
Health system is one of nine companies in the US to earn coveted site visit
Gaithersburg, MD - Over the past few years Adventist HealthCare (AHC) has been steadily and intentionally pursuing a goal of world-class excellence across the organization—an aspiration recently recognized by the National Institute of Standards in Technology (NIST) and the prestigious Baldrige Performance Excellence Program.
Since 2016, Adventist HealthCare has applied for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award—the highest national recognition for performance excellence that an organization or business can achieve. During that time, AHC demonstrated steady and marked improvements in process and operations across the system which this year has earned AHC a site visit—a coveted and distinct recognition earned by only 9 companies around the US.
"We received the news with great excitement," says Terry Forde, president and CEO of Adventist HealthCare. "The recognition symbolized by the site visit is a key indicator that our team members across our system are passionately committed to improvement in every area and to delivering world-class care to all members of our communities."
The Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, administered and presented by NIST, began as a study to improve the effectiveness and competitiveness of US organizations. NIST scrutinized the best companies in the world and the methods they used in order to achieve high levels of performance. A framework, or criteria, for excellence emerged as common themes began to be recognized. NIST’s findings are published in a book available to any company, school or healthcare organization. US President Ronald Reagan signed the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Improvement Act into law in the mid-1980s to posthumously honor his former secretary of commerce, Malcolm Baldrige.
The Baldrige Award is the highest national recognition that an organization or business can achieve and is, arguably, one of the most difficult to obtain. John Sackett, Adventist HealthCare’s chief operating officer, explains that the award is so difficult to earn that at times companies chose to participate simply because they want to improve operations and learn from the feedback they receive from the Baldrige team.
"As a faith-based healthcare system, we ought to subject ourselves to the highest scrutiny and strive to achieve excellence," says John Sackett, Adventist HealthCare’s chief operating officer. "What better way than by using the Malcolm Baldrige framework? If you’re doing God’s work, there’s no excuse for mediocrity."
Once a year, companies that are pursuing the Baldrige Award submit a 50-page application to the Baldrige Program. "To be eligible to apply for the national level," Emily Miller, AHC’s director for Performance Excellence and Strategic Planning, says, "you have to first achieve the highest level of performance in your state program, or meet other criteria if your state does not have a program. Maryland does not, so we are eligible at the national level."
After the application is submitted, Miller continues, "Baldrige examiners spend more than 40 hours reviewing [the company’s] processes and results, then provides the organization with a score and its top strengths and opportunities for improvement." If its score meets the performance threshold of the judges panel, the organization earns a site visit. If it does not earn a visit, the organization is mailed a feedback report with strengths and opportunities that help it to improve for the next year.
"An organization wants to earn a site visit," explains Miller, "because examiners come to visit to see your processes in action which makes you eligible to earn the award and provides you with even better feedback to improve, because they’ve seen the site and can ask clarifying questions regarding the processes in your application."
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sackett says AHC administrators will take examiners on a virtual guided tour through healthcare facilities. During the visit, the experts will have the opportunity to interview employees and view key performance indicators posted in each department.
According to current information, AHC is the first multi-hospital health system in the Maryland/Washington DC/Virginia region to have ever earned a site visit. "Every single employee is responsible for this accomplishment," emphasizes Miller. "It takes tremendous discipline and process management to achieve improved performance year-after-year."
Sackett agrees. "This is a team sport. When processes are put in place, the whole company knows exactly what we are trying to achieve and each employee puts their shoulder to the wheel."
After the site tour, the team of Baldrige experts will submit a report of their findings to a judge’s panel. The panel completes a final review and recommends award recipients to the NIST director, who then passes the panel’s recommendations on to the US Secretary of Commerce. Together, the Secretary of Commerce and NIST director decide if the recommended companies are good role models, then the Secretary of Commerce selects the award recipients. Winners will be announced before the end of the year. Finally, the President of the United States or another designee presents the award in late March or early April.
Regardless of whether AHC wins the award this year, Sackett says, "Success for us is when we achieve our Mission which is ‘to extend God’s care through the ministry of physical, mental and spiritual healing’ on a world-class level to every person, every time."
"The award is just the cherry on top," adds Miller. "It’s the validation that the processes that we’ve so carefully designed to meet each patient’s needs are now performing at the world-class level that we set out to achieve."
Adventist HealthCare offers a full range of health and wellness services to the community including acute hospital care, rehabilitation, mental and behavioral health services, home care, health education, a physician network and wellness services for businesses. Based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, Adventist HealthCare is one of the largest employers in Maryland, with approximately 5,500 employees. Our mission is to extend God’s care through the ministry of physical, mental and spiritual healing.