A QMS, shorthand for quality management system, is a formalized tool used for formal documentation of policies, procedures, requirements, and processes used by an organization to produce and manage a product and/or service offering.
A QMS should reflect the unique needs of the organization and be used to manage the system processes and personnel activities that take place throughout the product life cycle to ensure quality standards are consistently being met.
Organizations across multiple industries depend on their QMS to manage the quality, safety, and effectiveness of their product or service over a period of time, verifying and validating its ongoing performance and ability to meet the needs of customers.
Quality management, as a system, relies on certain key quality functions from within in order for it to operate. Quality assurance and quality control are two fundamental components of a QMS and each depend heavily on one another for effective quality management to be achieved.
Quality Assurance refers to the activities that ensure quality in the processes by which products are developed. And while a large portion of a QMS is focused on assuring the quality of processes, Quality Control represents a set of activities that revolve around identifying defects in the products that are created.
There are five main functional areas of a medical device QMS:
Under the document control subsystem is where key documents and artifacts will live. There are varying degrees of importance for each and the order in which they fall in the QMS hierarchy does matter.
Example of a QMS hierarchy
A QMS is made up of a set of components, such as company policies, procedures, forms, and work instructions accompanied by their sequence, interactions, and resources, of which are operational requirements within the medical device company. Finally, the quality records are the company’s proof that all aforementioned items exist within the QMS and are being carried out effectively.
Management is at the heart of any QMS and its processes. The important role this group has in the success of a QMS has a direct impact on nearly every subsystem of a QMS.
A valuable best practice for maintaining a strong and reliable QMS is to continually monitor its effectiveness and ensure that the QMS is adjusted as necessary. An effective means of doing so is by establishing key performance indicators for the processes within the QMS.
There are a number of different methods for QMS monitoring which are used by organizations across multiple industries to improve the quality of their systems and processes.
One commonly practiced method is the PDSA Cycle, also commonly referred to as the Deming Cycle (named after one of the pioneers of Quality as it relates to a QMS, W. Edwards Deming.
PDSA Cycle and Model for Improvement, Deming/API
This model for improvement involves four major stages with key considerations and recommended practices listed for each:
Various approaches to quality improvement should ultimately aim to serve the purpose of helping organizations meet the needs and expectations of both the customer and regulators. In doing so, organizations will reap many benefits, as well.
QMS implementation and ongoing maintenance will provide a high return on investment for organizations in terms of overall financial gain, competitiveness in the marketplace, and customer satisfaction of a high quality product and/or service.
QMS requirements vary by geographic region with each market having a designated regulatory authority in charge of enforcing QMS regulations and standards. Below are six regulations and standards with specific QMS requirements for medical devices:
FDA 21 CFR Part 820
FDA 21 CFR Part 11
In the United States, a quality management system for medical devices is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA provides a framework of basic, non-prescriptive requirements for manufacturers in 21 CFR Part 820, the Quality System Regulation (QSR) for medical devices.
“[T]he organizational structure, responsibilities, procedures, processes, and resources for implementing quality management.”
According to FDA, medical device manufacturers are required to develop a quality management system that is consistent with the:
The quality management system requirements provided by FDA serve as a shared set of standards by which medical device companies must adhere to when developing each one’s own QMS procedures.
It is, however, ultimately up to the manufacturer to assign roles and responsibilities of the persons who will be executing such processes using a risk-based approach. Risk mitigation and reduction methods, when done effectively, can have a strong positive impact on both the customer and the business.
FDA quality management system requirements state that the manufacturer is responsible for creating their organization’s policies based on the needs of the customer, business, perceived product risk, and requirements specific to the device and applicable regulations and standards.
ISO 13485:2016 is the international standard for quality management systems for medical devices. The globally harmonized standard specifies requirements for medical device manufacturers to obtain certification of their QMS in accordance with customers and the applicable regulatory requirements.
ISO 13485 QMS requirements apply to every stage throughout the entire lifecycle of a medical device and can be applied by medical device manufacturers, suppliers or any other third-party entity that provides QMS-related services to the primary medical device organization.
To comply with ISO 13485 QMS requirements, manufacturers must ensure all contents within the QMS align with applicable requirements of the standard and those specific to the market in which your medical device is manufactured and sold.
An eQMS replaces existing, outdated versions of QMS tools that often consist of physical paper stored in physical storage locations, like filing cabinets and desk drawers. The modernized version of a quality management system that we see today with an eQMS eliminates the cumbersome nature of non-electronic QMS tools by providing a single source of truth for organizations to manage the quality of their product or service.
All documents, procedures, policies, and records are able to be kept up-to-date at all times in a single, easily accessible location. Specific to the medical device industry, one major added benefit of an eQMS is that document version control is automatic.
In addition, an eQMS can provide key stakeholders with full visibility into the key details of any artifact within the QMS, such as the review and approval status of a key document and important historic data.
Like an eQMS, quality management system software brings an organization’s QMS online, allowing it to become the single source of truth for everything related to an organization’s product or service offering, which leads to optimal outcomes for the business.
There are many benefits medical device manufacturers can experience upon implementing a best-in-class QMS software, including:
A QMS for medical devices is an industry-specific solution that’s designed from the ground up to address and cater to the specific needs of the medical device industry. These purpose-built QMS solutions often come with compliance protocols built into the system that are specific to the niche vertical market of medical devices.
A medical device QMS provides the architecture needed to demonstrate closed-loop quality system traceability and prove that all procedures, processes, and activities comply with quality regulations specific to the market in which a medical device is sold.
The best QMS software allows medical device manufacturers to easily keep up-to-date records, makes documents easily accessible to all key stakeholders, and has dedicated workflows built-in to the system that align with industry standards and regulations.
Greenlight Guru is the only medical device quality management system built specifically for medical device organizations. The medical device quality management system comes out of the box with industry regulation and standard best practices built into the architecture of the QMS that gives manufacturers the guardrails to work within, making compliance easy.
An efficient and controlled way of managing our documentation is now much more straightforward. I am confident that we are compliant with using GG
Greenlight Guru are ahead of the game in terms of incorporating workflows which lead to compliance to ISO 13485:2016 and 21 CFR Part 820 regulations. The Change Management and Document Control functionalities make it easy to control records and document approvals especially in a world that is moving away from the traditional 'in-office' setting to remote working
The software is user-friendly and customizable enough to meet your needs if you already have an existing QMS set up. But honestly, the best part is the team we work with for our transition process. They make the difference in this being a good experience. Their friendliness and wealth of knowledge about the medical device industry made the process so easy
With Greenlight Guru, we have been able to solve training gaps, on-time completion of customer complaints and non-conformances, and change orders. Previously to Greenlight, we had complaints that sat uncompleted for over a year; now with GG we are able to close them in less than 30 days.
Greenlight Guru is life-changing! The platforms for documentation and collaboration have made me and my team so much more efficient. It has turned the huge headache of regulatory compliance into a much more manageable task.
Fantastic support, complete documentation package which just needs minor adjustments to suit the company, intuitive navigation through the menu, and different QMS modules inside the software.