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As a country, we’re getting older.

There are 76 million baby boomers in the US right now, CNBC reports. Projections say about 54 million of those men and women will need some form of long-term care, and 13 million of those will require a stay of longer than three years in a skilled nursing facility.

Yet, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, there is an occupancy rate of 89 percent at those facilities, leaving fewer than 300,000 beds available countrywide.

And, there is a shortage of nurses in our country; experts expect there to soon be a shortage of doctors as well.

Here’s the bottom line: needs are growing, but resources are diminishing. How can we do more, with less?

Improving efficiency, minimizing costs, and streamlining processes are the keys to doing more with less, and many long-term care facilities are turning to Baldrige to help them achieve the necessary results.

I’d like to draw your attention to the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) National Quality Awards Program. AHCA receives around 1,000 application for the awards program every year. The Baldrige Health Care Criteria for Performance Excellence is used to evaluate the applicants. The winners show KPIs significantly higher than the national average:

Winners also show the business owners in a better place, financially and operationally, than the national average:

More results can be seen on AHCA’s Fast Facts page.

Why are the recipients’ outcomes so much rosier than the national average? It all goes back to Baldrige.

The Baldrige Excellence Framework is a business model that guides organizations to a higher level of performance. The Framework has three parts: (1) the criteria for performance excellence, (2) core values and concepts, and (3) scoring guidelines. When organizations commit to adopting the criteria and embracing the core values of the Framework, their own procedures and values are examined, and opportunities for improvement become evident. The scoring guidelines illuminate where further improvement may be reached, and also identify Baldrige Award recipients that will serve as role models for other organizations.

According to the National Institute for Standards and Technology, the Baldrige Criteria help healthcare organizations achieve and sustain the highest national levels of:

  • Patient safety and patient loyalty
  • Health care outcomes for acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, pneumonia, and other conditions
  • Physician and staff satisfaction and engagement, especially among registered nurses
  • Revenue and market share

As we innovate new ways to serve more patients with fewer resources in the future, these operational efficiencies will become ever more important.


Regardless of your industry, all types of organizations (schools, government, manufacturing, small business, etc.) can pursue performance excellence using the Baldrige criteria and achieve remarkable results. Similar to the AHCA award, the North Carolina Award for Excellence (NCAFE) is a Baldrige based award program for North Carolina organizations. You can visit the website to learn more about where to begin your Baldrige journey.

Also, check out some leading organizations and prior winners of the NCAFE award to see how they’ve sustained results.


Kevin GraysonKevin Grayson is Assistant Director, Technology Management at NC State Industry Expansion Solutions. He provides strategic consulting, including business plan and sales development strategy, market penetration, market growth, new product introduction, innovation strategies and product design to clients in multiple industries.