Improving Service Quality. Achieving High Performance in the Public and Private Sectors

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Article publication date: 1 April 2000




Milakovich, M.E. (2000), "Improving Service Quality. Achieving High Performance in the Public and Private Sectors", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 93-94.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

With regards to recent government activities, there can be no denying that quality is to be placed at the heart of healthcare delivery. However, for some healthcare professionals, quality is an intangible concept that is afforded the status of luxury rather than necessity. This is particularly so given the current economic climate.

Despite this book being published in 1995, Michael Milakovich addresses all of the above issues in such a way that a balance is achieved between theory, practice and common sense. For instance, before providing an informative and useful overview of the main quality concepts he explains why quality is an important element for public and private sector companies. In addition, the first two chapters include an easy to read summary of the contribution made by the well‐respected gurus of the field of total quality. This approach meets the needs of the novice and the more widely read user of the book.

Despite referring heavily to the American system, the content of the book has the potential to support all healthcare managers in their pursuit of excellence. To illustrate, Milakovich recognises that delivering a quality service is reliant upon concepts and principles that encourage employee responsibility, reduce internal competition, promote teamwork, improve decision‐making processes and lower costs. Furthermore, the book is not written from an idealist’s point of view, as Milakovich appreciates that there have been many failed attempts at implementing total quality systems. Although, he also acknowledges that there are common features associated with failure which can be overcome by the insightful manager. Consequently, he provides some sound advice and suitable strategies for implementing total quality within complex public and private sector organisations.

In particular, Milakovich asserts that getting everyone “to recognise the importance of listening to the customer is one of top management’s initial and continuing challenges”. With regards to this there is a realisation that the only employees who can really delight customers are the ones who have direct contact with them. Hence, the focus should be on ensuring employees have power or control over their work responsibilities which in most instances results in higher customer satisfaction.

While Milakovich recognises that this does not happen overnight, he does encourage leaders of healthcare organisations to pursue a culture of continuous improvement in the interests of long term survival and ultimate customer satisfaction. Some mention is also given regarding the attainment of awards and the impact they have on public perception and employee performance.

Finally, this is an insightful book with lots of useful information presented in such a way that it is easy to read and digest. Moreover, the inclusion of case studies and “tips for success” enhances the pragmatic approach of the text and makes it a useful resource for individuals and/or teams pursuing total quality within their organisation. I would recommend this book to novices and well versed readers of quality, to managers, clinicians and other personnel interested in the delivery of quality concepts within healthcare.

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