Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Value of the AGM

This is a busy time for the Medical Laboratory Quality arm of University of British Columbia; we had the Annual General Meeting for Clinical Microbiology Proficiency Testing (CMPT) last week and this week we have the Quality Management Conference for Medical Laboratories by the Program Office for Laboratory Quality Management (POLQM).  That is a ton of work, and if it weren’t for all the people that work with me, and for W Edwards Deming, it would have been a disaster.  

CMPT and POLQM staff are all strongly committed to Quality and that and a lot of hard work make the two programs work; but it was our collective commitment to ISO9001:2008 and Deming’s PDSA that created the structure that allowed us to be as organized as we are.  

The AGM went very well.  While we don’t unfortunately have records readily available, to my recognition we have been hosting an AGM since at least 2000; perhaps longer.   It is a convenient time for all the committee members and our stakeholders, especially the provincial accreditation bodies with whom we work, to get together in one room and sort out what is working with CMPT and what needs improvement.  The following day, the clinical bacteriology committee gets together in camera, and selected the next set of challenge samples that will be sent out between May 2014 and April 2015.  

Perhaps the most important part of the AGM from my perspective is when I share with the group how we have fared with last year’s Goals and Objectives, and more importantly the AGM is when I announce our new set of  G&Os for next year.

Last year we had a total of 6 G&Os, 4 were program oriented and 2 were Quality oriented.  All 6 were met.  

 This year we have a new set of 9 that address fiscal issues including personnel and hardware requirements, and importantly a plan to move forward on a new recognition pathway.  (As we progress forward, I will write more.)  It should be an exciting year.

One of the G&Os not listed at last year’s meeting, but added in as an extra in mid-year was the intent to allow medical laboratories that use CMPT products and services to send representatives to subsequent meetings with the view that being  present and more importantly being actively involved  during Question and Answer sessions could help create stronger relationships with those laboratories.  

It was a good idea, and well planned and promoted, and had some success.  We had people who planned to come, although one had to withdraw.  What I was hoping to have, questions arising during Q&A, didn’t occur.  Perhaps these new AGM attenders felt intimidated by the questions from the regular attenders, or perhaps they were content to just sit and listen; I can’t say.  But, I think the old adage of “you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket” applies.  If you are not present during the Question and Answer period, then you are less likely to have your questions asked or answered.  

So I count this as a partial victory; a bunch read the announcements, some responded and a few attended.  I consider that as a good start.  Maybe next year a few more will attend and we will get a few questions from the floor.

As a final comment, within ISO 17043, the standard for competency assessment for proficiency testing programs, one finds requirement for management review and review meetings.  That is standard good quality, whether it is derived from 17025 or 9001.  What is not mentioned is any requirement or recommendation or a note suggesting that programs consider hosting a stakeholder meeting to bring together interested parties, including the customers to talk about product and service.  

I think that is a flaw in the standard that could and indeed should be addressed in future editions.

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