Quality Management System (QMS)

Quality Management System (QMS) refers to a network of interdependent processes and procedures, organizational structure, and resources required to plan, implement, control, sustain, and continually improve quality. The QMS provides a framework for seamless integration of quality planning, quality assurance (QA), quality control (QC), and a number of other structured, systemic and planned activities designed to ensure quality and patient safety. Breakthrough results and performance improvements achieved by leading healthcare organizations have demonstrated the universal applicability and effectiveness of using a systematic framework for achieving performance excellence. In the past, healthcare organizations developed and implemented two, three or more standalone management systems in efforts to improve quality, safety and other dimensions of organizational performance. These disconnected management systems with separate structures and resources resulted in a silo mentality and created barriers for effective communication, collaboration, and exchange of vital information. Today, an increasing number of organizations are developing a cohesive, harmonized and integrated QMS that operates in conjunction with the finance, business planning and other organizational systems.

The all-inclusive QMS that integrates multiple standalone management systems may not always be practical for every organization. However, when implemented methodically and thoughtfully it provides a number of benefits including:

  • Better planning, allocation and utilization of resources
  • Improved overall efficiency through elimination of redundancies and reduced variability
  • Better alignment of multiple operational functions with strategic goals and objectives
  • Coordinated approach to managing risks, hazards and vulnerabilities
  • Unified system for data collection and analysis
  • Streamlined documentation and consolidated set of policies and procedures
  • Improved communication, staff engagement and decision making processes
  • Aligned strategies to create a high-reliability organization
  • Harmonized methodologies, tools and techniques for continual improvement
  • Synchronized education and training programs
  • Maximum legal protection while allowing for the dynamic flow of information
  • Robust structure to facilitate and promote generation of new ideas
  • Enhanced environmental protection
  • Strengthened culture of continual improvement and service excellence
  • Easier compliance with standards, legal and regulatory requirements
  • Improved health and safety performance
  • Enhanced organizational ability to manage change and address future needs
  • Improved governance and stakeholder confidence
  • Holistic and consistent approach to managing organizational performance

There is no perfect QMS that can guarantee success because each organization is unique; however, effective design and implementation of the customized system that makes the most sense for a particular organization can significantly increase the probability of achieving desired results. Implementation of the organization-wide QMS is not easy and requires visionary leadership, unwavering commitment, discipline, employee engagement, interprofessional collaboration, and profound change of the organizational culture. Some organizations may be tempted to resolve all their issues and challenges by using information systems and technology alone; however, achieving significant and sustainable results is unlikely without designing effective structures and processes. In fact, many of the breakthrough improvements do not necessarily require “high-tech” solutions or major capital investments. Effective application of quality concepts, principles, and methods in any type of organization necessitates a flexible and coordinated approach based on systematically obtained evidence. The various process improvement and quality management models, such as Lean, Six Sigma and Business Process Management (BPM), are not mutually exclusive, self-sufficient or absolutely independent of one another. Each model brings unique perspectives, approaches, tools, and techniques that can be effectively integrated into the QMS to produce desired end results and drive continual improvement.