Applying Deming’s 14 Points to the Healthcare Industry – Part 3 of 4

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Continuing our series on applying Deming's principles in the healthcare sector, we now turn to principles 8 through 11. Each of these principles offers further insights into fostering a culture of quality and continuous improvement in healthcare.


8. Drive Out Fear

Fear can be a significant barrier to improvement in any organization. In healthcare, fear often arises from concerns about making mistakes or facing disciplinary actions. This principle emphasizes the importance of creating a safe and open culture where staff feel comfortable reporting errors or near-misses, suggesting improvements, and asking questions.

Leadership should foster an environment of psychological safety, where everyone is encouraged to learn from mistakes rather than fear them. This culture contributes to improved patient safety, leading to more error reporting and opportunities to prevent future mistakes.


9. Break Down Barriers Between Departments

Healthcare is an inherently collaborative field, requiring smooth cooperation between various departments and professionals. Deming's ninth principle focuses on the need to break down silos and foster better cross-departmental collaboration.

Efforts should be made to enhance inter-departmental communication and teamwork. This can be achieved through interdisciplinary team meetings, shared goals, and processes that require collaborative problem-solving. In doing so, a more holistic and coordinated approach to patient care can be adopted.


10. Eliminate Slogans, Exhortations, and Targets for the Workforce

Deming's tenth principle discourages the use of hollow slogans and unrealistic targets. In healthcare, it's crucial to remember that quality care cannot be reduced to catchy slogans or simplified metrics.

Instead, the emphasis should be on creating an environment that supports quality improvement. This involves providing the necessary resources, training, and support and recognizing the complex nature of healthcare work.


11. Eliminate Numerical Quotas

Deming was against management by numerical quotas, often leading to sub-par work and undermining quality. In healthcare, this might translate into avoiding policies that stress the quantity of care (like the number of patients seen) over the quality of care.

Healthcare professionals should be encouraged to spend time with each patient to ensure quality care rather than rush through appointments to meet a quota.


In conclusion, Deming's principles 8-11 further build on creating a culture that values quality, collaboration, and continuous improvement in healthcare. They underline the importance of an open, supportive environment, solid interdepartmental collaboration, and a focus on quality over quantity.


Stay tuned for the final part of this series, where we conclude our exploration of Deming's principles in a healthcare context.

This post is the third in a series of four on applying Deming's 14 points in the healthcare industry.


Posted on June 10, 2023 by  Quality Gurus


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