Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Value of the Quality Award Program

Dr. David Gifford

Every day you go to work and make a difference in someone’s life. Your job is important. How many people can say that? Our profession is a hard one, but it’s also rewarding. We care for people who need it the most. But with that importance, also comes a responsibility. We have the responsibility to provide great care, be on the forefront of clinical standards and serve as leaders in quality health care services. 

That’s why AHCA/NCAL started the National Quality Award Program in 1996. The program, which published its 2016 applications on Monday, encourages continuous learning, development and quality improvement in participating centers and communities. It recognizes that quality is a continuous journey. The program’s criteria are based on the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, a framework developed by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology. The impact of this strategic approach in health care settings has been cited in studies throughout the years (Schulingkamp and Latham, 2015, Truven Health Analytics, 2014 and Foster and Chenoweth, 2011). And AHCA research found that Silver and Gold Quality Award recipients outperform their peers in a number of key metrics (2014 Quality Report).

For these reasons, the Association has also chosen this systematic approach as the essential foundation of its 2015-2018 Quality Initiative. The Initiative is about more than hitting established targets in specific goal areas, it’s about creating a systems based improvement model as the foundation of the organization; and building on that foundation to achieve success. A recent webinar that I recorded explains this in greater detail.

And if that’s not enough, you may be interested in knowing that the Baldrige criteria and CMS’ Quality Assurance and Performance Improvement (QAPI) are rooted in the same principles. A 2014 article in Provider Magazine explains the alignment of the two. With the release of the regulations, QAPI is a reality that centers need to prepare for. Since the demands of the programs are similar, Silver and Gold Quality Award recipients will be better prepared to meet these impending regulations.

I encourage you to visit the Bronze, Silver or Gold application pages and start the process today. The time you put into the program will improve the lives of those you employ and care for every day. For more information, visit the Quality Award website or contact Quality Award staff at qualityaward@ahca.org.

**Important Dates To Know**
· Mid-September: Intent to apply (ITA) process opens

· December 7: Applications accepted online

· January 28: Bronze, Silver and Gold application deadlines

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