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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Want to improve quality? Don't pound the table

If you want your staff to improve quality, don't pound the table. Why? It doesn't work. That advice comes from Emory Healthcare CEO John Fox, in an online article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


Why doesn’t pounding on the table work? Because people have reasons for what they’re doing, Fox said. Either it’s the culture, or it’s what they’ve been trained to do, he said. Slow down and listen, he advised.

Just a few years ago, his healthcare system’s performance on national quality surveys was “middle-of-the-pack,” he said. Fox responded by mobilizing the troops. Staff had to meet quality, safety, or service goals to receive incentive awards. All leaders (more than 500) attended a three-day “quality academy” so they were all working with the same vocabulary. The healthcare system set up an office of quality.

That still wasn’t enough. The “secret sauce,” as Fox called it, was to set up a Quality Acceleration Team with 60-plus members including physicians, nurses, and staff from lab, pharmacy, finance, and information services. The group met for four hours every two weeks, starting at 7 a.m. The group looked at obstacles.

Now Emory’s two teaching hospitals (Emory University Hospital and Emory Midtown) scored a landmark for the University HealthSystem Consortium: Both were in the top 10 among 101 national systems. From middle of the road to top 10. Now that success is worth pounding the table about.