Our Stories: A Quality Improvement Journey at UI Hospitals & Clinics

I am pleased to have Beth Hanna, director of our Quality Improvement Program, as our guest author for the CMO blog this month. As we all are aware, quality revolves around our patients. High quality care with elimination of preventable harm is what we must strive for every day, and we do! Please take some time to read Beth’s very well done blog, and as usual, please contact us with comments.  

National Patient Safety Week was celebrated March 10–16, 2019. University of Iowa Health Care will celebrate Patient Safety Week April 29 to May 3 in partnership with the Quality Improvement Program, Department of Nursing, and the Office of the Patient Experience. Twenty years have passed since the Institute of Medicine, renamed the National Academy of Medicine in 2015, published To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System. The report garnered the attention of many because it estimated that as many as 98,000 hospitalized patients in the United States die each year as a result of patient safety failures. Subsequent articles have suggested the number may be much higher. Regardless, this report heightened the nation’s awareness of the risk to those hospitalized and the urgency to further understand and mitigate risk moving forward.

Make no mistake, achieving patient safety is a journey—a journey constantly challenged by the complex, dynamic environment in which patient care is delivered. It’s a continuous search for ways to improve the quality and safety of care in a time of overcrowded emergency departments, hospital census at capacity, and ever-more complex and sicker patients. In an effort to leverage quality, safety, and performance improvement practices to mitigate risk in one area, risk may be created in another.

So how do hospitals persevere in such challenging times? As part of UI Health Care’s effort to eliminate harm to patients in every setting, the leadership of our organization has invested in and supported a number of strategic initiatives over the past few years to influence our ability to achieve safety for all. In 2016 a quality and safety structure was implemented consisting of five domains: Surgical Procedural, Adult Inpatient, Children and Women’s, Ambulatory, and Shared Services. Associate chief quality officers and nursing leaders are responsible for the organization of quality and safety committee structures within each domain. In March 2016, the Quality and Safety Oversight Subcommittee held its inaugural meeting. The subcommittee is comprised of 44 members who meet the first Monday of every month. At this same time, a new provider role, physician value officer, was incorporated into the hospital quality and safety structure.  And most recently, in January 2019, Clinical Quality, Safety, and Performance Improvement (CQSPI), Operations Excellence (OE), and Nursing Quality staff have formally integrated into one program, the Quality Improvement Program. Lastly, effective March 18, 2019, we re-launched the Quality Improvement Database, creating a central repository of institutional performance improvement initiatives.

As we establish and operationalize a more integrated and aligned quality and safety structure, we are positioned to more efficiently and effectively mobilize each and every one of us to address the risks that we face—to be the system that provides high quality, patient-centered care free of all preventable harm. Our greatest resource is all of you, who get up each and every day to provide the best possible care to patients who entrust their lives to us. The dedication, commitment, and work ethic of our staff, our team, is second to none.

As we approach the next fiscal year, the goals of the organization are being set. The goals are ambitious and necessary to continue advancing the cause of quality and safety. We look forward to partnering with all of you as we continue on our journey. As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, UI Health Care will celebrate Patient Safety Week April 29 to May 3. Take time to participate in the activities!

Thanks for making a difference!

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