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Quality Improvement Terms

By IAPM Research Intelligence

Quality Improvement Terms

bench marking: The practice of setting operating targets for a particular function by selecting the top performance levels, either within or outside a company's own industry. In a broader sense, bench marking involves searching for and copying new ideas and best practices for the improvement of processes, products and services.

brainstorming: A technique to generate as many thoughts and ideas as possible within a defined time (e.g., 10 - 15 minutes).

cause: The reason for a problem or defect.

common cause: A reason for a problem or defect that is inherent in the production process.

consumer: The recipient of the service provided. (See "customer").

critical indicator: clearly defined measurements that compare various input and process characteristics.

cross-functional teams: Teams composed of workforce members from several different work units.

customer: In the broadest sense, the recipient of the service provided or the purchaser of the services. Generally, however, the term refers to the purchaser of the service. (See "consumer").

cycle time: The amount of time it takes to complete a defined task.

defect: Non-conformance to requirements; the lack of a necessary characteristic.

effectiveness: Conformity to requirements; the degree to which the service is performed in the correct and desired manner.

external customers: Individuals, entities and organizations who are outside of the actual operation of the EMS system and who receive services provided by the EMS system, a component of the system, or an individual working within the system.

internal customers: Individuals, entities and organizations who are involved in or with the operation of the EMS system and who receive services provided by the EMS system, a component of the system, or an individual working within the system. Internal customers include EMS' employees and volunteers, members of the leadership councils or committees that plan and coordinate the system, agencies that interact to form the ongoing system and other health care providers.

key business drivers: Imperatives that are critical to customer satisfaction, competitive effectiveness or goal achievement.

key suppliers: Outside providers that supply the goods and services that are most important to effective functioning of the EMS system.

linkage: Interactions that effect coordination and completion of tasks.

Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award: National award given to companies and businesses in recognition of their achievements in quality. The Award is managed by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology.

mission statement: A statement that describes the fundamental reasons for the existence of the organization.

objectives: Measurable statements that are consistent with the mission, vision and key drivers.

problem: The result of non-conformance to patient and other stakeholder requirements.

process management: Improvement of work activities and work flow across functional or department boundaries.

quality: The extent to which products and services meet or exceed customer requirements.

quality assurance (QA): Retrospective review or inspection of services or processes that is intended to identify problems.

quality care: The extent to which health care services meet the patient's needs and produce the desired health outcome.

quality improvement: The continuous study and improvement of a process, system or organization.

quality indicators: Characteristics of products, services or processes that represent quality.

sentinel event: An undesirable event or phenomenon that triggers further analysis and investigation.

stakeholder: Individuals and organizations, other than the patient who receives the EMS services, that have some interest in the operation of the EMS organization, e.g., the patient's family, the community in which the EMS system operates, government officials, the patient's insurer/third-party payor, and health care providers.

strategic quality planning: An integrated planning process that incorporates strategic planning with quality planning.

value statement: A statement that identifies basic tenets and principles of how people work together.

vision statement: A statement that declares where the organization wants to be in the future. A vision statement serves as a major focal point of an organization's strategic quality plan.


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