Many people are familiar with the phrase, "Lead, follow or get out of the way." It is time for us to start making organizational decisions based upon that phrase, or we are going to fail. Those organizations that do things a year--or more--after others have done them might feel like they're constantly playing catch-up to the leaders, but that's better than nothing. Getting out of the way is for those who can't keep up. They're bound to fail and we can no longer support failure.
Today, our customers are more knowledgeable and demanding than ever; they know what they want and how they want it delivered. They're quick to criticize poor performance and will use the ballot box to show their displeasure. Meanwhile, public funding is getting tougher to obtain and many organizations have resorted to billing for services to supplement dwindling funds. It's only going to get harder, and it's our obligation to become the public service that is recognized for meeting the goals and expectations of those customers, the public.
How do we accomplish this formidable task? By focusing on our commitment to the delivery of quality services.
Defining Quality Service
Here are some definitions of quality:
- Quality is the highest level of care that can be provided to customers within the scope of the organization.
- Quality management is a process of continuous improvement through which everyone strives to create and support an environment in which people are committed to serving and meeting the needs of customers.
- Quality is conformance to standards that meet or exceed customer expectations.
- Quality is being the best individual you can be within a departmental structure.
Requiring Quality from Start to Finish
Implementing quality customer services takes more than just snapping your fingers. Delivering quality is a long-term, far-reaching and continual process affecting departmental practices in every area.
- Hiring standards. Hire only people who fully understand that yours is an organization dedicated to the highest standards in delivering quality services to customers.
- Employee orientation. Educate every employee as to your standards and how you measure success. Each individual must understand he is accountable for meeting every standard of quality.
- Job requirements. Establish quality as a requirement of the job. To keep their positions, employees must understand, stand by and--most important--practice at the highest level of quality service.
- Evaluation process. Employee evaluations must include a component identifying individual success in following the organization's standards of quality.
- Rewards. Reward employees when they accomplish customer service goals.
Quality Control Myths
"Practice Makes Perfect"
Many of us believe that practice makes perfect. This is not necessarily true. What is the goal when you drill and practice in your department? Is it to improve the quality of how you do business, or are you drilling old ways in, practicing ways of doing things that may not be the best? Practicing a procedure the wrong way will not lead to perfection. Can you show--with documentation of proof--that loading a hose bed a certain way or laying out a cabinet in the squad a certain way leads to improved performance and higher quality? If not, you need to rethink it.
High-quality performance comes from perfect practice. That's accomplished by identifying areas needing improvement and designing quality improvement models to achieve desired outcomes.
"The 85% Benchmark Is a Good One"
Does your organization use a benchmark of 85% for achieving goals and objectives? Are you happy with that figure? Maybe if you're talking about a National Registry test. Let's look closer at such benchmarks:
- Is 85% a good standard for getting your rig out the door in a specified time?
- Is 85% a good standard for initiating oxygen when a patient needs it?
- Is 85% a good standard for a successful intubation? What if you were the patient?
- Is 85% a good standard for pushing the correct drug?
- Is 85% a good standard for practicing safety standards on your job?