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A QualitEvolution is intended to capture positions and experiences as a participant in the evolution of the Quality profession into the 21st century. From its origins as the brainchild of Corporate Industrial Statisticians, our profession has transformed and evolved to incorporate and adapt to the demands and expectations of our modern existence.

The scope of the subject matter within A QualitEvolution extends to the furthest ranges of quality, business transformation, management science, and quality issues especially pertinent to the members of ASQ in Canada.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Socially Responsible and Affordable Health Care

Several years ago, while at a prior employer, I directed Quality and Regulatory Affairs for a medical software company that made a wide array of clinical products, installed and deployed in Europe and North America.  One of the success stories was an innovative firmware solution that combined innovative mobility technology with usable software to track patient and blood samples to support safe and accurate blood transfusions.

Several years after having this technology demonstrated and proven, the national media in Canada has caught up to our innovation by publishing a very powerful article at the site (http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/08/06/errors-mislabelled-samples-pose-staggering-cost-to-canadas-blood-banks/).

After these many years, I take personal pride in the role I played in the development, testing, regulatory approval, deployment, and ongoing maintenance of this particular product suite.  The alternative to an automated barcoding solution was a cumbersome administrative process that was more susceptible to human error in delivering mismatched, expired, or contaminated blood.  This small but successful solution contributed to affordable health care by alerting with alarms of blood that did not match the patient (saving expensive and potentially fatal responses) or spent too long between controlled environments (resulting in less waste of precious blood inventory and better medical outcomes).

There are many examples of technological and process improvements which have simultaneously reduced costs and risks, resulting in health care outcomes which are more socially responsible and affordable.  Had America followed Canada's example (thank you Tommy Douglas) and adopted a nationwide health program as early as 1974 as cited in this proposal at the site (http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/stories/2009/september/03/nixon-proposal.aspx), the effects could have been contained and the efficiencies realized decades before the devastating economic impact emerged during the Great Recession.

The lack of affordable health care was dramatically evident when it became a major contributor to automotive manufacturing losses.  According to multiple accounts, particularly Lee Iacocca at (http://www.leeiacocca.net/thoughts-on-leadership/health-care.aspx) and this CNN Money site at (http://money.cnn.com/2007/01/26/news/companies/pluggedin_taylor_ford.fortune/index.htm), the impact was substantial when losses were realized by the three major American car manufacturers.  The average amount per vehicle (over $1500) accounted for over 50% of the profitability difference between American and transplanted import cars manufactured in USA ($2900 according to CNN).  Iacocca also expressed that in addition to the employer's burden, average healthcare costs per family exceeded $12,000 and was a leading cause of personal bankruptcies.

The principles of Social Responsibility align very closely with the provision of Affordable Health Care.  There is not a single principle that is in conflict with risk reduction and cost savings.  It only needs the will of engaged citizens and stakeholders to bring this vision into fulfillment for the benefit of all.

1. Principle: Accountability: An organization should be accountable for its impacts on society, the economy, and the environment.

2. Principle: Transparency: An organization should be transparent in its decisions and activities that impact on society and the environment.

3. Principle: Ethical Behavior: An organization should behave ethically

4. Principle: Respect for Stakeholder Interests: An organization should respect, consider and respond to the interests of its stakeholders.

5. Principle: Respect for the Rule of Law: An organization should accept that respect for the rule of law is mandatory.

6. Principle: Respect for International Norms of Behavior: An organization should respect international norms of behavior, while adhering to the principle of respect for the rule of law.

7. Principle: Respect for Human Rights: An organization should respect human rights and recognize both their importance and their universality.

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