Jan 18, 2012

ProjectConnect: A Quality Improvement Project for … Quality Improvement Projects

The Tulane University IHI Open School Chapter, the first one in Louisiana, was founded in December 2010. In just one year, we've seen our membership grow to more than 70 members that have initiated multiple quality improvement projects at Tulane Medical Center.

Organizing all of those projects, ironically, turned into a quality improvement project itself.

Let’s first step back a bit. We started holding monthly meetings in early 2011, open to medical students and faculty, to discuss quality improvement related topics in health care, many of which were based on modules available on the IHI Open School website. After speaking with many students and faculty who attended those initial gatherings, we began to understand that our medical community was full of enthusiastic faculty and students who wanted to get involved with quality improvement at Tulane. However, we didn't really know how to get started connecting everyone with this shared interest and enthusiasm. We made solving this problem our main goal.

We decided that the most effective quality improvement project would be to connect the like-minded individuals in our medical community and enable them to actually do quality improvement. This is how we came up with ProjectConnect, an online quality improvement project repository and social network. We designed ProjectConnect with three goals in mind:

1. Provide a secure online platform to create, share, and manage quality improvement (QI) projects. 2. Facilitate collaboration and mentorship between Tulane faculty and medical students on QI projects. 3. Promote QI and patient safety awareness within the Tulane community.

After two months of internal meetings and guidance from our faculty advisor, Dr. Frank Rosinia, we submitted a formal business proposal to our dean's office, made a formal presentation, and secured funding for the development of ProjectConnect. We spent the next five months developing and testing the application. For example, we made sure students and faculty could log-in with their existing emails and that project data was visible to everyone after it was entered. Meanwhile, we continued holding Chapter meetings every six to eight weeks to build our chapter membership.

In August 2011, we held a faculty breakfast to unveil ProjectConnect. We asked the faculty – from Tulane Hospital, the medical school and the school of public health – to bring their laptops to breakfast so we could teach them how to log-in and enter projects into the system. (Gaining faculty support was crucial to our effort.)

Once we had some QI projects loaded, we scheduled a meeting to introduce ProjectConnect to our medical student community. The student response has been tremendous, and today there are more than 20 QI projects in the system in various stages of completion. A few examples of the work that’s going on:
  • Improving patient handoff efficiency
  • Reintroducing a surgical safety checklist in the ORs at Tulane
  • Decreasing CLABSI rates
  • Developing an effective method to train first- and second-year medical students in clinical documentation
Our Chapter continues to grow and the incoming student leadership has big ideas for developing a QI elective based on IHI Open School modules, with the goal of incorporating it into our medical school curriculum in 2012.

- Clinton Piper, medical student, Tulane University