Home » Health IT »PSQH » Currently Reading:

American Autos Circa 1970 and Healthcare

July 24, 2013 Health IT, PSQH No Comments

The Ford Pinto was a really terrible car. The gas tank was positioned such that, in a collision, protruding differential bolts would puncture the tank, leading to frequent car fires. This defect led to the death of more than 27 people and many others maimed. Cars made in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s were poorly designed, cheaply assembled, and reliably unreliable. Rather than designing for quality, American manufacturers relied on fixing problems after assembly. Is it any wonder that consumers soon abandoned these terrible cars and purchased Japanese models instead?

Japanese manufacturers followed the quality rules created by W. Edwards Deming in their pursuit of the U.S. car-buying public. Deming’s principals allowed Japanese companies to manufacture high quality automobiles at lower costs and with fewer defects than their American counterparts.

With the rapid shift from volume-based reimbursement to value-based reimbursement, organizations must change the way they deliver healthcare, with Deming’s quality rules offering clues as to what needs to be done. In the 1970s, U.S. automakers fixed defects in their cars after they rolled off the assembly line.

This approach to healthcare—fixing defects, not measuring quality, ignoring processes, and shunning transformation and change—cannot survive the new realities inherent in the shifting of reimbursement rules. Perhaps a few of Deming’s 14 key principles for transforming business effectiveness can provide a roadmap for what our organizations need to do to prosper in the years ahead.

Excerpts from: American Autos Circa 1970 and Healthcare. PSQH, May/June 2013

Photo Courtesy of  Don Guerwitz Photography – Window Watcher. Tibetan Kingdom of Mustang, Nepal

Comment on this Article:


DocsNetwork Events

Healthcare Blogs

Health IT Organizations

  • Aventura - Aventura provides on-the-go clinicians with split-second access to the right patient information from any workstation in the hospital.
  • Infor - Provides clinical, analytic, integration, and financial solutions to the healthcare marketplace.
  • Rash, and Rashes The Art of Skin Diagnosis – SkinSight - “Rash, and Rashes The Art of Skin Diagnosis” is an open access connected to diagnostic decision support. The tutorial is a wonderful example of augmenting traditional classroom medical education with sustainable HIT and decision support.
  • Clinical Decision Support – Logical Images - Online diagnostic clinical decision support website developed for clinicians providing direct patient care.
  • HIMSS - Health Information Management Systems Society
  • HIMSS Europe - HIMSS Europe and World of Health IT
  • AMIA - American Medical Informatics Association


  • PSQH - Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare Journal
  • WTN Media - Wisconsin Technology Network


  • Logical Images - Logical Images develops visual medical technology and resources that increase diagnostic accuracy, enhance medical education, and heighten patient knowledge.
  • Don Gurewitz Photography - – Internationally recognized travel photographer offering unique specially printed limited edition photographs.

Past Events