Leadership Quality

What could we learn from others?

Healthcare as a service is very complex, but it’s not necessarily different from other industries; for a better healthcare performance we could learn more from other industries and I believe that the industrial approaches have an important role to play in driving up healthcare quality.

The Institute of Medicine in its report “Best Care at Lower Cost” emphasized this concept by asking what can happen if other industries routinely operated in the same manner as many aspects of health care, for example:

If banking were like health care, automated teller machine (ATM) transactions would take not seconds but perhaps days or longer as a result of unavailable or misplaced records.

If home building were like health care, carpenters, electricians, and plumbers each would work with different blueprints, with very little coordination.

If shopping were like health care, product prices would not be posted, and the price charged would vary widely within the same store, depending on the source of payment.

If automobile manufacturing were like health care, warranties for cars that require manufacturers to pay for defects would not exist. As a result, few factories would seek to monitor and improve production line performance and product quality.

If airline travel were like health care, each pilot would be free to design his or her own pre-flight safety check, or not to perform one at all.

We cannot say that health care should function in precisely the same way as other industries. Yet, if some of the transferable best practices from banking, construction, retailing, automobile manufacturing, and flight safety were adopted as standard best practices in health care, we could see patient care in which:

  • Records would be immediately updated and available for use by patients;
  • Care delivered would be proven reliable at the core and tailored at the margins;
  • Patient and family needs and preferences would be a central part of the decision process;
  • All team members would be fully informed in real time about each other’s activities;
  • Prices and total costs would be fully transparent to all participants;
  • Payment incentives were structured to reward outcomes and value, not volume;
  • Errors would be promptly identified and corrected; and
  • Results would be routinely captured and used for continuous improvement.


Best Care at Lower Cost, The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America (2013), The National Academy for Science, Engineering, Medicine.

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Dr. Khalid Abulmajd

Healthcare Quality Consultant

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