Five Years of Quality

For the better part of the last decade, an increased focus on measurable outcomes, quality, and patient safety has fueled countless technological and process improvements in health care across the country. University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has been the vanguard for the state, its clinics and wards serving in part as carefully controlled laboratories of innovation and imagination.

QICoverOne of the fastest ways to spur imagination is to see what others are achieving. As a means of fostering this conversation, the Department of Medicine’s quality leaders Drs. Aparna Kamath, Karl Thomas, Mony Fraer, Melinda Johnson, and Krista Johnson organized the first Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Symposium in 2013. “Our goals were to create a venue where we could share the innovative work in quality and safety that was happening at the University of Iowa and foster inter-professional collaboration and to help healthcare workers incorporate quality and safety into their everyday practice,” Dr. Krista Johnson said.

That first year brought a number of different groups together, each with the same vested interest in quality and safety. A joint venture between Continuing Medical Education (CME); Clinical, Quality, Safety & Performance Improvement (CQSPI); the Iowa City VA Medical Center; and the Office of Operational Excellence, the inaugural event featured a keynote from Dr. Jeff Glasheen, the Chief Quality Officer for the University of Colorado Hospital Authority. The day-long event focused on how to incorporate quality and safety into everyday practice.

Subsequent years brought more stakeholders into the planning process. Chief Pharmacy Officer Mike Brownlee, PharmD, MS, FASHP, joined Drs. Aparna Kamath and Krista Johnson as course directors. The Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy were joined by the College of Nursing and the Office of the Chief Medical Officer in 2014. The theme that year was “The Journey from I to We: Building Effective Teams,” and an opening address from Iowa Hawkeyes Football Head Coach Kirk Ferentz kicked off the symposium that year. Attendance nearly doubled.

In 2015, the Office of eHealth and Innovation (now The Signal Center for Health Innovation), the Office of Consultation and Research in Medical Education, and the Iowa Chapter of the Society for Hospitalist Medicine joined the others to help organize a symposium around “The Quest for Value” with keynote speakers Elizabeth Teisberg, PhD, and Scott Wallace, JD, MBA, from Dartmouth. More than 160 attendees attended that year. In 2016, the theme was “Innovating for Quality” with keynote speaker Ralph Gonzales, MD, MSPH, Associate Dean for Clinical Innovation and Chief Innovation Officer at UCSF School of Medicine. Dr. Wendy Fiordellisi began organizing the poster session for researchers to display their quality improvement projects. Poster presentations were an all-time high at 76.

Although the partnerships with new units within the UI Health Care system certainly helped increase the attendees, it seems more likely that as the scope of quality and safety projects, research, and education at UIHC continued to expand, the value of the symposium as a venue to collaborate, educate, and innovate was recognized. “The program has been able to grow consistently over time because it has served as a spotlight on the great work that was already occurring at UI Health Care and our local region. The symposium has tremendous potential to become the primary forum for dissemination of advancements in quality and safety for the State and beyond,” Dr. Brownlee said.

IMG_2395This year’s symposium promises to uphold this tradition. A variety of formats, topics, and presenters will be on display. This year’s keynote speaker, held during Internal Medicine Grand Rounds, will be David Bates, MD, MSc, Professor of Medicine and Health Policy and Management at Harvard. Dr. Bates is an international expert on quality and safety with interest in health information technology and big data. Dr. Maia Hightower, Chief Medical Information Officer, will deliver a brief lecture on the need for leadership throughout an institution as more of its care is delivered and tracked digitally. There will be short TED-style presentations on tele-pharmacy and on mobile apps for pediatric wellness in hard-to-reach populations. Breakout sessions will cover everything from mitigating the opioid-overdose crisis to designing an effective map in process improvement efforts.


The event’s poster competition, held the evening before and showcasing dozens of quality-improvement projects, will also factor into the symposium’s presentation. Four of these submissions will be presented as short “poster pearls” near the day’s end. Poster prizes will be awarded to top posters and announced just before the keynote speech on October 26. Dr. Fiordellisi said, “We welcome presenters from all levels of training, from all members of the healthcare team, from small works in progress to elaborate finished projects, in order to foster an environment for all of us to learn and collaborate. We look forward to another dynamic session this year.”

Abstracts for the poster session are being accepted until October 18. They can be submitted here.

To register for the 5th Annual Quality & Safety Symposium or for more information about the event, click here.



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