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Quality assurance in healthcare organisations in Spain: same goals, different methods.

Autor/autores: Eduardo de la Sota
Fecha Publicación: 04/11/2010
Área temática: .
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Avances en Salud Mental Relacional / Advances in relational mental health
Vol.4, núm.3 - Noviembre 2005
Órgano Oficial de expresión de la Fundación OMIE
Revista Internacional On-line / An International On-line Journal

QUALITY
ASSURANCE
IN
ORGANISATIONS
IN
SPAIN:
DIFFERENT METHODS.

HEALTHCARE
SAME
GOALS,

Dr. Eduardo de la Sota
(Médico, Psiquiatra, Experto en gerencia de organizaciones sanitarias, Profesor de la
Universidad de Deusto. Spain)
e-mail: edulorsa@euskalnet.net
Quality assurance and accreditation in the healthcare sector has become a priority for
politicians and managers in Spain, as it happens in Europe and the USA. Given the fact
that different models are being implemented, the question emerges: which to choose ?

THE LEADING MODELS
The EFQM model (EFQM, 1999)
The European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) is a membership
based not for profit organisation, created in 1988 by fourteen leading European
businesses, with a mission to be the driving force for sustainable excellence in Europe
and a vision of a world in which European organisations excel. In addition to being the
owner of the EFQM excellence model and managing the European Quality Award
process it also provides a portfolio of services for its members.
Excellence is defined as outstanding practice in managing the organisation and
achieving results, all based on a set of 8 fundamental concepts: Results orientation,
customer focus, leadership and constancy of purpose, management by processes &
facts, people development & involvement, continuous learning, improvement &
innovation, partnership development and public responsability.
Excellence is not just a theory, it is the achievement of tangible level of results
and the evidence that these results can be sustained. Besides financial results, leading
indicators are used, including measured excellence in customer satisfaction and loyalty;
people motivation and capability; and the satisfaction of the wider community.
To create confidence that the results can be sustained, there must also be
evidence that the operations and activities of the organisation are soundly based,
systematic, and continuously reviewed and improved.
The ISO model (ISO, 1999)
ISO 9000 is a generic system that specifies, in very broad terms, the necessary
components of a quality management system. Rather than being specific to any
industry, it details the basic requirements of the quality function for all industries. ISO
9000 was originally published in 1987 by the International Organisation for
ASMR Revista Internacional On-line - Dep. Leg. BI-2824-01 - ISSN 1579-3516
CORE Academic, Instituto de Psicoterapia, Manuel Allende 19, 48010 Bilbao (España)
Copyright © 2005

1

Avances en Salud Mental Relacional / Advances in relational mental health
Vol.4, núm.3 - Noviembre 2005
Órgano Oficial de expresión de la Fundación OMIE
Revista Internacional On-line / An International On-line Journal

Standarisation, a worldwide federation of standards bodies, headquartered in Geneva.
The organisation was founded in 1946 to develop a common set of standards for
manufacturing, trade and communications. Today, more than 90 countries are members,
each with a representative.
ISO 9000 includes the following standards: ISO 9000-1 (Guidelines for selection
and use of applicable ISO 9000 standard), ISO 9001 (Model for quality assurance in
design, development, production, installation and servicing), ISO 9002 (Model for
quality assurance in production, installation and servicing), ISO 9003 (Model for quality
assurance in final inspection and testing) and ISO 9004-1 (Guidelines for quality
management and quality system elements).
The process of implementing ISO 9000 focuses on establishing the quality
mission, policies and procedures that make up a sound quality management system.
Depending on the system´s complexity and the level of documentation required, the
process can take from a few months to a year or more to implement.
The Joint Commission model (JC, 2001)
The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits nearly 19.000 health care
organisations and programs in the United States. An independent, not for profit
organisation, the Joint Commission in the USA is the nation´s predominant standardssetting and accreditation in health care. Since 1951, the Joint Commission has
developed state-of-the-art, professionally based standards and evaluated the compliance
of health care organisations against these benchmarks.
The mission of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of healthcare
organisations is to continuously improve the safety and quality of care provided to the
public through the provision of health care accreditation and related services that
support performance improvement in health care organisations.
The Joint Commission evaluation and accreditation services are provided for the
following types of organisations: General, psychiatric, children´s and rehabilitation
hospitals; health care networks; home care organisations; nursing homes; assisted living
residencies; behavioral health care organisations; ambulatory care providers and clinical
laboratories.
The Joint Commission´s standards address the organisation´s level of
performance in key functional areas, such as patient rights, and the standards focus not
simply on what the organisation has, but what it actually does. Standards set forth
performance expectations for activities that affect the quality of patient care-if an
organisation does the right things and does them well, there is a strong likelihood that
its patients will experience good outcomes. The Joint Commission develops its
standards in consultation with health care experts, providers, measurement experts,
purchasers and consumers.
COMPARING THE MODELS
The ExPeRT (External Peer Review Techniques) project (Shaw & Heaton,
2000) has been an interesting experience. Funded by the EU, it was designed to
investigate the scope, mechanisms and use of external quality systems in the
improvement of health in Europe and other countries.
ASMR Revista Internacional On-line - Dep. Leg. BI-2824-01 - ISSN 1579-3516
CORE Academic, Instituto de Psicoterapia, Manuel Allende 19, 48010 Bilbao (España)
Copyright © 2005

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Avances en Salud Mental Relacional / Advances in relational mental health
Vol.4, núm.3 - Noviembre 2005
Órgano Oficial de expresión de la Fundación OMIE
Revista Internacional On-line / An International On-line Journal

Methods of developing and assessing organisational standards range from the medical
specialty-driven "visitation/visitatie" (The Netherlands and the UK), through traditional
accreditation (developed in North America, Australia, UK, Spain, The Netherlands,
Finland, Italy, France,Sweden, Germany and Switzerland) and European Quality
Awards (Scandinavian nations, The Netherlands and Spain) to industrial certification,
using ISO standards (Germany, U.K, Switzerland and Spain). The project was devoted
to analysing their differences and similarities:
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The "Visitatie" method is driven by professional organisations and has a long
tradition in health care as a form of peer review. The basis of assessment is
primarily clinical and confidential and less explicit than the standards and
processess of ISO or EFQM.
The Accreditation model (Joint Commission) is based on an assessment by a
multi-disciplinary team of health professionals against published standards.
Facilities complying with these standards are awarded certificates of
accreditation.
The EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management) model was inspired
on the Baldrige Awards (developed in the USA for improvement of quality in
production industries). Health care providers who seek a European Quality
Award are assessed against performance standards for service industries in
specific areas such as clinical results, patient satisfaction, administration and
staff management. It has been revised in 1999.
The ISO 9000 (International Standards Organisation) has been mostly used in
more mechanical departments (laboratories, radiology and transport), but has
also been applied to whole hospitals and clinics.

According to Shaw and Heaton, the four models have begun to converge
spontaneously. They believe that clearer demarcation of scope and contribution of each
model could increase efficiency and reduce duplication in the external quality
improvement market. This would require a range of compromises including Policy
(priorities, explicit values, continuous improvement, conceptual framework, customer
response, transparency and legislation), Organisation (national co-ordination, European
communication and international liaison), Methods (language, standards, cross-walking,
assessment, quantification, clinical performance and assessment skills), Resources and
Evaluation and Quality (programme performance, independent verification and
research).
In France, Duvauferrier et al (1999) compared the accreditation procedures, the
ISO 9000 certification procedures and the total quality management methods in a
department of radiology and medical imaging. They concluded that directors of
radiology interested in implementing a quality assurance program, should first evaluate
their departments using the Canadian accreditation model issued in 1993 which is useful
to become familiar with the new concepts of quality. In a second step, a self assessment
using the EFQM has to be done in collaboration with all members of the administration
board in order to integrate all parameters and to share this protocol with all decision
makers. The last step is to consolidate the organisation of the quality assurance
protocols by means of the ISO 9002 certification.
ASMR Revista Internacional On-line - Dep. Leg. BI-2824-01 - ISSN 1579-3516
CORE Academic, Instituto de Psicoterapia, Manuel Allende 19, 48010 Bilbao (España)
Copyright © 2005

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Avances en Salud Mental Relacional / Advances in relational mental health
Vol.4, núm.3 - Noviembre 2005
Órgano Oficial de expresión de la Fundación OMIE
Revista Internacional On-line / An International On-line Journal

CONVERGENCE AND INTEGRATION OF MODELS
Donahue & vanOstenberg (2000) described the components of the new Joint
Commission International (JCI) accreditation program for hospitals, and compared it
with the four quality evaluation models described under the ExPeRT project (visitatie,
ISO, EFQM and organisational accreditation).
All the models have in common with the JCI program the use of explicit criteria
or standards, and the use of external reviewers. The JCI program is an organisational
accreditation approach with evaluation of all the "systems" of a health care organisation.
The JCI model evaluates the ability of an organisation to assess and monitor its
professional staff through internal mechanisms, in contrast with the external peer
assessment used by the visitatie model. The JCI program provides a comprehensive
framework for quality management in an organisation, expanding the boundaries of the
quality leadership and management found in the EFQM model, and beyond the quality
control of the ISO model. The JCI organisational accreditation program was designed to
permit international comparisons, difficult under the other models due to country
specific variation.
Donahue & vanOstenberg concluded that the JCI program provides a framework
for the convergence and integration of the strengths of all the models into a common
health care quality evaluation model.
From The Netherlands, Klazinga (2000) said that, although a general
convergence between the four models can be observed, actual convergence will depend
on their adoption in specific health systems contexts. Klazinga thinks that potential
pitfalls for further convergence are the differences in distribution of responsabilities for
quality of care among the various European countries, the drift away from clinical
decision making, bureaucratic tendencies and too much focus on efficiency and patient
empowerment compared with attention to medical effectiveness.
In The Netherlands, many healthcare organisations use the EFQM model.
According to Nabitz, Klazinga and Walburg (2000), in addition to improvement
projects, peer review of professional practices, accreditation and certification, the
EFQM approach is used mainly as a framework for quality management and a
conceptualisation for organisational excellence. The Dutch National Institute for
Quality, delivers training and supports self-assessment and runs the Dutch quality award
programme.
In Germany, Moeller (2001) has analysed German experiences with the EFQM
approach in heath care. This author sees the excellence model as a systematic quality
management approach to gain competitive advantage. It is non-governmental, nonfinancier driven, and generic enough to address health care issues. Having its foundation
in industry, however, it is not specific enough to cover all areas relevant to health care.
Moeller believes that integrating the smart method of self-assessment with clinical
standards as delivered by peer auditing and accreditation systems generates the potential
to deliver excellence in health care.

ASMR Revista Internacional On-line - Dep. Leg. BI-2824-01 - ISSN 1579-3516
CORE Academic, Instituto de Psicoterapia, Manuel Allende 19, 48010 Bilbao (España)
Copyright © 2005

4

Avances en Salud Mental Relacional / Advances in relational mental health
Vol.4, núm.3 - Noviembre 2005
Órgano Oficial de expresión de la Fundación OMIE
Revista Internacional On-line / An International On-line Journal

THE SITUATION IN SPAIN
In the Basque Country the Basque Foundation for Quality Promotion was
created to encourage total quality management in companies. The Basque Regional
Healthcare Service has adopted the EFQM model with satisfactory results (Arcelay et
al, 1999).
The EFQM is being implemented in the Aránzazu Hospital (San Sebastian) with
high levels of satisfaction among professionals, although communication procedures
should be improved (Portillo, 2000). It has also been tested with satisfaction in the
Zumárraga Hospital (2000). The ISO processes, which have been implemented in
Basque Hospitals during the past years, have result very helpful to evaluate results
under the EFQM model as Sánchez (2000), from the Basque Regional Health Service ,
pointed out. Sanchez explained that the Joint Commission model is biased by american
standards when implemented in Europe, while Bañeres (spanish representative of the
Joint Commission) stated that the JC is specific for health care, something that can´t be
said about other models.
In Catalonia, several quality management methods have been implemented. The
Pius de Valls Hospital, in Tarragona, is using the EFQM model. More than 200
professionals are involved in the project and the Hospital has recently been awarded
with the Arthur Andersen Award (Biel Fortuny i Organs, 2000). The Sagessa Group , a
private corporation of Hospitals and primary healthcare centres, has also adopted the
EFQM model (Simon , 2000). The "Centro Hospitalario-Unidad Coronaria" Foundation,
from Manresa, has implemented the ISO 9001 procedures, and now is beginning to use
the EFQM. Guix (2000) from the Sagessa Group, sustains that the EFQM, The Joint
Commission and the ISO methods are complementary, as EFQM focuses on the
organisational processes, the Joint Commission method is specific for health care and
the ISO standards stress the importance of industrial processes and marketing (which is
very useful in settings such as laboratories). The Health Department of the Catalonian
Autonomous Government is developing an official accreditation model for all
Healthcare centres. It will be based on the EFQM model, but standards from the Joint
Commission, the King´s Fund and the ISO 9000 will be added (Durán, 2000).
The King´s Fund model has been adopted in some hospitals. This is the case of
the "Fundación Pública Hospital Virgen de la Xunqueira"(la Coruña) in the region of
Galicia (Rey Aneyros, 2000). In this same region, the Arquitecto Marcide Hospital (La
Coruña), follows the strategy of the Manresa Hospital, implementing the ISO 9001
procedures prior to the adoption of the EFQM model (Molina, Grandal, Facio y Sevilla,
2000).
In Andalucia, the "Reina Sofía" Hospital (Córdoba) is developing a quality
planning based on the EFQM model. In six months patient´s satisfaction has increased
up to a 90´6% (Diaz, 2000).
Nevertheless, in the region of Castilla, a survey (García Roldán, 1999) found
that physicians do not support the EFQM model. They think that the EFQM model
gives excessive priority to manager´s leadership and user´s satisfaction.
Clinical Units in the region of Valencia are determined to pursue the ISO 9000
quality certifications, as Caldú pointed out (2000).
ASMR Revista Internacional On-line - Dep. Leg. BI-2824-01 - ISSN 1579-3516
CORE Academic, Instituto de Psicoterapia, Manuel Allende 19, 48010 Bilbao (España)
Copyright © 2005

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Avances en Salud Mental Relacional / Advances in relational mental health
Vol.4, núm.3 - Noviembre 2005
Órgano Oficial de expresión de la Fundación OMIE
Revista Internacional On-line / An International On-line Journal

A spanish manager, Orbea (1999), stated that what is important is to do things
correctly, rather than obtaining accreditation or certification.
Finally, Lluis Bohigas (2001), from the spanish ministry of health, has recently
said that a consensus must be reached, among all the spanish autonomous regions,
concerning accreditation, certification and quality assurance in the healthcare system. A
difficult but necessary challenge.

ASMR Revista Internacional On-line - Dep. Leg. BI-2824-01 - ISSN 1579-3516
CORE Academic, Instituto de Psicoterapia, Manuel Allende 19, 48010 Bilbao (España)
Copyright © 2005

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