To trim costs and manage cash flow, Milwaukee is partnering with the American Society for Quality (ASQ) to foster quality improvement.
For over a decade, Milwaukee has been upgrading city departments with tools and techniques such as the Accountability in Management (AIM) program. Through AIM, the city boosted childhood immunization rates to suppress outbreaks of various vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, and pertussis. In response to data showing that Milwaukee was falling short in meeting national childhood immunization goals, the city has been working with Milwaukee Public Schools and community-based organizations over the years to target school readiness. In 2006, the immunization rate for public school students K-12 hovered around 61 percent. For the 2013-14 school year, Milwaukee has achieved an approximate 87 percent immunization compliance rate.
By using quality tools provided by ASQ, improvements continue to be made in operating efficiencies and processes. This partnership allows employees to connect with a full spectrum of ASQ benefits, including the availability of quality improvement tools and training as well as networking and certification to maximize productivity and performance.
One example of Milwaukee’s recent quality improvement work involves the Milwaukee Health Department Laboratory. In October 2013, ASQ experts spent one week working with the Health Department Lab managers and employees, engaging ASQ for training in seven basic tools of quality improvement to create a culture of quality around the technical and administrative tasks associated with lab testing.
Using techniques such as daily “huddle” meetings, the lab staff has been able to successfully combat the ill effects of a ‘section silo’ culture and has begun to use a “visual display board” for workload analysis and ‘hot-button’ items. This has led to improvement in rapid response times and lab communication. These techniques and others have saved the city thousands of dollars in lab testing costs in just months, and over half of Health Department employees have become ASQ Certified Quality Improvement Associates (CQIAs).
Examples like this demonstrate that Milwaukee is benefiting from the tools, ideas and expertise of ASQ in its ongoing efforts to achieve performance excellence and deliver quality services.