Handbook of Healthcare Management
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Handbook of Healthcare Management

Edited by Myron D. Fottler, Donna Malvey and Donna J. Slovensky

The Handbook of Healthcare Management is a comprehensive examination of key management practices for global healthcare organizations, arguing that insight into and implementation of these practices is essential for success and sustainability.
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Chapter 8: Organizational excellence

Leonard H. Friedman


In 1964, the case of Jacobellis v. Ohio came before the United States Supreme Court (Chicago-Kent College of Law). The court was asked to judge on the purported obscenity of Louis Malle’s motion picture, The Lovers. By a 6:3 majority, the court ruled that the movie was not obscene. What was most memorable was the language of Associate Justice Potter Stewart who wrote that while he could not precisely define obscenity, “I know it when I see it.” What does a 1964 Supreme Court decision on obscenity possibly have to do with excellence in healthcare delivery? While the intent here is not to equate a racy movie by 1964 standards with organizational excellence in healthcare, a similar challenge exists. In both cases, we do not have a uniform definition that is acceptable across the country and is not dependent on the community standards in place at one moment in time. Beyond defining organizational excellence (OE) is the larger question of whether this is a priority for healthcare leaders. In their annual survey of the top issues confronting hospital chief executive officers (CEOs), the American College of Healthcare Executives lists financial challenges, healthcare reform implementation, government mandates, patient quality and safety, care for the uninsured, patient satisfaction, hospital–physician relations, population health management, technology, personnel shortages, and creating an accountable care organization as their top ten concerns for 2013 (American College of Healthcare Executives, 2014).

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