A global revolution has occurred which has forced organisations to address issues of quality in their products and services. Organisations who excel in quality products and services, have found that a clear competitive advantage can be claimed. Consumers are becoming more demanding and less forgiving as they seek out value for their money. This pressure to perform was felt by the manufacturing industries first, who set about improving their products. They found a measure of success in work pioneered by masters like Deming and Juran. Today, we know this as Total Quality Management (TQM).
The service industries realised that quality was relevant to their operations as well. There was a drive to apply similar strategies to assist in lifting performance and generating repeat business.
The health industry recognised that quality was already present in its systems. However, it needed to address ongoing quality improvement to meet new consumer demands. When health management examined its own services critically, it found many areas that could be improved. TQM was considered a worthy concept applicable to hospitals after many successes in the manufacturing industries. Trial projects proved successful with many CEO's reporting beneficial outcomes.
The service industry welcomed a service standard specially developed for its needs. TQM is still in transition and specific areas needed attention. Hospitals received their own purpose developed standard through the Australian College of Healthcare Standards (ACHS). About 32% of hospitals hold this accreditation. Benchmarking enters the search for excellence providing an extension to TQM. It forces organisations to look outwards to world class practice.
A new approach is developing in providing health services. The emphasis is shifting from the individual onto the team, processes are under investigation rather than individuals. Punishment and criticism are being replaced with