Chief Quality Officer: A New Trend in Healthcare

One sign of the growing interest in healthcare in improvement strategies is provided in a recent article from Health Leaders magazine. The publication reports that an increasing number of hospitals are creating a new position of Chief Quality Officer.

The article notes that the role of the CQO is often somewhat nebulous and can cover many different things. But there is no denying the interest.

"Patients, regulatory agencies, the government—they're all demanding quality, says Beka Warren, RN, chief quality officer at The Memorial Hospital in Craig, CO. "In the past, what has been important to the board of trustees is the financial component. If we were doing well financially, we were considered to be doing well. [Today] in this hospital, we look very much at the quality things that are going on."

There are a couple of ways to look at this trend. From a purist, lean perspective I’d be inclined to view quality as an inherent part of everything an organization does. It should be built into the processes, a responsibility of everyone, not just one person.

On the other hand, one might view a hospital CQO as the top process improvement person, providing support for efforts to improve quality. And that might be a good thing, if that is indeed what the person does.

The Health Leaders article doesn’t go into HOW a CQO does his or her job. I’m sure there are different approaches, some positive, some not. A study of these approaches would make for an interesting follow-up.

Have you ever been in an organization that had a chief quality officer? What is your experience?


Scott Hodson said...

My firm has helped a number of large multi-hospital health systems to develop and implement world class quality management organizations. One of our clients was recently named the #1 nationally rated health system on the combined HCAHPS and CMS Quality Ranking as published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. (Mayo Clinic was #2)

In each case, the highest performing systems have both a Chief Medical Officer and a Chief Quality Officer. For more information on our perspective on key organizational elements, see Healthcare Quality Management Customer Service Model on my website.

Anonymous said...

What is the salary for this position and where do they fit in the org chart? Is this senior management?

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