When it comes to getting the straight skinny on new ways to improve their businesses, 94% of healthcare executives said they rely on the word of their peers, a higher percentage than executives in any other industry group surveyed, according to a report by the American Society for Quality.
And more executives in healthcare -- 61% -- predicted they will launch new process improvement programs in the coming year than executives in any of the other three industry types studied, the survey from the Milwaukee-based quality improvement association said.
But when it comes to actually measuring the impact their business improvement projects are having on their bottom lines, healthcare leaders (at 54%) fell far short of their peers in the manufacturing (73%) and below service industries (59%), ranking above only those in education (44%).
The surveyors analyzed responses from 100 executives in healthcare, 220 in services, including government, 182 in manufacturing and 101 in education.
While conversation with peers was the most often cited source of influential information for healthcare executives, they also relied to a lesser extent upon testimonials from someone who has successfully used a technique (77%), case studies (72%), and competitors' financial results (53%), as well as trade magazines, journals, scientific research, industry standards and trial runs at their own companies, according to the study.
Across the board, manufacturing executives were far more familiar than leaders in any of the other industries with the tools of process control and quality improvement, techniques such as total quality management (TQM), benchmarking, International Organization of Standardization (ISO) 9000 series of standards, quality circles, six sigma and the Baldridge criteria for performance excellence.
For healthcare executives, 79% said they used TQM and 73% said they used benchmarking as their favorite tools, followed by quality circles, 27%; six sigma, 8%; Balridge, 7%; and ISO 9000, 6%.
Manufacturing led the pack in employing persons who served as quality managers, with 78% of manufacturing executives saying their organizations had them. Healthcare leaders followed at 65%, with services, at 40%, and education, at 19%, trailing.