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Need help with essay prompt: Can we apply total quality management in hospitals?

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For the last decade, total quality management has been considered the gold standard in quality management in the healthcare setting.  Therefore, the question is not really whether we can apply total quality management in hospitals, but what steps hospitals need to take to implement this type of management within their organizations.

The first thing to keep in mind is that modern hospitals are not simply hospitals; they are almost all part of larger healthcare networks.  This has the potential of dramatically improving patient care, as the range of care that a patient can access through a particular hospital is not limited solely to what services that hospital offers, but also encompasses medical care available through providers in the entire network.  However, this also means that the hospital network is only as well-run as its weakest link, since patient care in one facility can have an adverse impact on patient care throughout the system.  Therefore, quality management programs must be implemented on a system-wide basis in these healthcare organizations, not just on a hospital-wide basis.

The second thing to keep in mind is that there are five broad aspects to quality management that go into the concept of total quality management.  These aspects are reliability, assurance, tangibles, empathy, and responsiveness.  A hospital cannot assure a quality outcome for patients in terms of outcomes because the very fact that a patient is in need of hospitalization means that they face the potential of negative health outcomes.  Furthermore, because some hospitals or hospital units may focus on higher-risk patients, you cannot measure outcomes based on health outcomes or deaths without looking at more factors.  Instead, you have to consider whether patients who are in need of a certain type and level of care are able to access care at that facility and, if that care is not available, whether they are transferred to a facility where they can receive appropriate care in a timely, safe, and reliable manner.

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