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Healthc Forum J. 1992 Jan-Feb;35(1):56-60.

The practical zealot. Interview by Joe Flower.


In 1987, Ellen Gaucher took an unusual trip. As senior associate director of the University of Michigan's sprawling 11,000-employee Medical Center, she was invited to a conference about a movement that was rapidly growing in the word of business--total quality. The occasion was the organizational conference of the National Demonstration Project on Quality Improvement in Health Care, led by the Harvard Community Health Plan in Boston. Gaucher was skeptical at first. Total quality seemed a great way to make better cars, light bulbs, and aluminum siding, but would it work in a service industry? More to the point, would it work in an industry as complex, as critical, as pressured, as high-tech, as human, and as intellectual as healthcare? But by the second day, she says, "I was sold that this was what we had needed for a long time." She hurried back to Michigan like a missionary trekking into cannibal country. Today, not only is the University Medical Center deep in a total quality conversion experience, so is the University itself, through its president, James J. Duderstadt. He was exposed to the idea through Gaucher: In his ex-officio position as chairman of the Medical Center's board, he had experienced her vivid and enthusiastic educational efforts. Gaucher has related her intense experiences with TQ at conferences, in articles, in the 1990 book, Transforming Healthcare Organizations (winner of the Hamilton Award given by the American College of Healthcare Executives for the best book of the year) as well as the forthcoming Total Quality in Healthcare (both co-authored with Richard Coffey). (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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