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QFD and Healthcare — Keeping Quality, Cost, and Availability in Focus

The Affordable Care Act is now law in the U.S. One of its goals is to create a more competitive market for health related products and services. The idea is that more competition tends to lower costs.

(photo - Healthcare)One purpose of the Act is to reduce what families will have to pay for health care by capping out-of-pocket expenses and requiring preventive care to be fully covered without any out-of-pocket expense. This means that quality and value will play significant roles in future health services, health insurance, medical devices and equipment, and electronic health records software.

When we see words like competition, quality, value, and outcomes as a basis for designing new products and services, there is no better way than QFD to link patient outcomes to product/service design and delivery.

While there are other methods for surveying customer satisfaction after the fact and various approaches to improve healthcare quality and efficiency, QFD offers a unique advantage over others in building the "connections" and clarifying the "relationships" between outcomes and inputs.

How does QFD work in a healthcare environment?

  1. There are many stakeholders such as patients and family, caretakers, physicians, nursing staff, technologists, payers, administrators, regulators, and others we must still identify. In Healthcare QFD, we can determine the relative importance of all stakeholders by using the customer segments table to clarify and prioritize.
  2. Stakeholder needs often start as complaints, vague statements, and behaviors that can be analyzed for true customer needs. In Healthcare QFD, we use the customer process model and customer voice table to restate all inputs into solution-independent needs.
  3. Competition will increase because of the Affordable Care Act. This will require planning how to focus limited resources where they matter most, using AHP. Solutions are multidisciplinary. In Healthcare QFD, we use the maximum value table and House of Quality matrices to define what the solution must be and do, and then innovate solution options that include hardware, service, and software.
  4. Costs must be managed. The efficiencies of Lean thinking and waste reduction must include not only operational impact but customer impact. Lean and other initiatives can be guided by stakeholder needs and priorities.
  5. Quality improvement must be ongoing and measurable. Six sigma approaches to improving operations and reducing variability are a must.

Healthcare QFD uses special versions of these tools which are taught in the public courses along with relevant case studies. If you are attending the ASQ world conference, there is a good chance that this training course will be held there, too. Please check the ASQ Calendar as well as the QFDI Calendar.

If you prefer in-company training, the Modern QFD workshop can be also scheduled at your business location with the focus on your business project. Please contact us to inquire.

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