Lessons from Anne Arundel Medical Center on Applying for the Quest for Quality Prize


When the team at Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC) began the process of applying for the 2018 American Hospital Association Quest for Quality Prize, they knew it would be an all-hands-on-deck project.

That’s where Christian Balcer came in. Christian started as Administrative Fellow for AAMC in June of 2017. About a month into the role, he was approached by the hospital’s Chief Operating Officer, who asked if he would be willing to work on the application.

Balcer immediately knew two things: First, it was a challenge he wanted to tackle. Secondly, AAMC needed to tell a compelling story.


Stories and initiatives that made the final cut had special relevance to the organization’s pursuit of quality, many of which had significant impact on patients. Others represented work that was received positively by staff or corresponded with high quality scores or outcomes.

“We let the work speak for itself in terms of what we were going to highlight,” said Balcer.

Selecting what content would make it to the final application wasn’t easy. One observation Balcer and Victoria Bayless, president and CEO of AAMC, made during the process is just how easy it is to forget how much work had been accomplished until you’re compiling it all together. We’ve been doing this work for a long time and it was a much needed reminder of how far we’ve come.

“Inevitably, the story you see in the final application isn’t the full picture,” he commented. “Your organizational learning isn’t limited to the document; it’s all the things that you have to consider and prioritize that don’t even make it in the application that make up even more of the learning as well.”

Though they began in mid-July, completing the application process took them right down to the wire – submitting the night of the deadline on October 1, 2017.

“It’s the word counts that got us,” he says laughing, “I was literally going back and forth with Maulik Joshi, our Chief Operating Officer, that night trying to cut 10 words here and there to get us under the limit.” 

The work was well worth it, though. AAMC finished as a finalist for the award. 

When asked what advice he would give to other organizations considering applying for the Quest for Quality Prize, he has two pieces of wisdom to share. First, start by ensuring your application is cohesive.  

“The last thing you want to do is piecemeal it together and then figure out how you can weave a compelling theme in after the fact,” he noted. “Don’t try to fit the application to your organization. Fit your organization to the application and the things you want to highlight will come out as you pull it all together.”

As for the second? It’s simple.

“Tell the story. Tell the story. Tell the story.” 

About the Author

Kate is passionate about bringing the RL brand to life by creating unique experiences for RL's clients and staff. When Kate’s not at RL, she’s traveling (literally and figuratively through the magic of books) or drinking a nice, hot cuppa tea!

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