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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Communicating Quality - one more time.

I have mentioned the Montreal Conference a few times.  Since it occurs on Wednesday this week, writing about it today is not to encourage more folks to attend.  That ship has gone.  We anticipate an audience which will be about 70 percent of what we had hoped for, but well over our break-even point. Since the point of this conference was not about generating revenue, I am satisfied with what we have.

Our objective was to get the message out about improving Quality communication in Canada.  Between the people who come, and the coverage that we will generate between 3 web-log (blog) sites and offerings of the powerpoint files, and the academic presentations that get generated, we will get our messsage out.

I will provide a conference summary article and make the powerpoint presentations available for sharing after Wednesday April 5 at www.POLQM.ca.    While ISO9001 and ISO15189 speak to communication, I perceive these requirements under the classification of “necessary, but not sufficient”.  In the Canadian Standards Association’s book 15189 Essentials: an implementation guide we speak in more detail about how to implement a quality communication program (you can order the book through www.csa.ca through the on-line bookstore.  
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Developing  an effective quality communication program in the medical laboratory has to look at developing both an in-house information program plus bringing in materials from outside.  Laboratorians have a lot of choice; we can make this as expensive or as cheap as we want, and realize that the depth of the quality communication system does not necessarily have a linear relationship with cost.  Expensive is not necessarily better.  

What is an  interesting consideration is  that as an early adopter, laboratories develop a third arm and major opportunity.  Gaining experience leads to sharing the message, and sharing the message creates opportunity for revenue generation, which can be put back into the quality program to reduce it as a cost centre, and moves towards being revenue neutral, or even better.  Even in a socialist single-payer health care system, generating revenues to promote quality for bringing in speakers or for sending people away is a good thing.  We cover this in a variety of ways at the conference.

What the quality program needs is time.  In my presentation I suggest components that would add up to 30-40 hours a month, which pretty much reinforces the imperative of creating Quality Manager and Quality Team positions.  To make it clear, I don’t expect every laboratory around the world to put in a communication program that consumes 25 percent or more of a person’s full time, but in every laboratory sharing information with staff on some regular schedule improves knowledge and engagement.  Even in laboratories in developing countries, this improves the focus of care and reduces poor care.

I know and understand this leads to the obvious question of whether improved communication results in improved quality and secondly, will improved quality result in reduced cost and improved laboratory services.    Fortunately there is a lot of published material that supports positive responses to both.

If you are planning to go to the meeting at Le Westin Hotel in Montreal, come on over and let me know that you are a MMLQR reader.  If we have a moment to chat, the coffee is on me.

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