Jun 13, 2012

Highlighting Quality Improvement in Toronto

By Craig Olmstead, Medical Student, University of Toronto

It was a long, but satisfying day.

From the early-morning set up to the take down in the evening, the 2nd annual Quality Improvement & Patient Safety (QuIPS) Conference, presented by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s University of Toronto Chapter, provided ample opportunity to discover the breadth of health care system innovations occurring in Toronto and beyond.

Held May 5 at the University of Toronto, the conference drew about 140 delegates from across universities in the greater Toronto area. Presentations from professionals and students alike highlighted the many initiatives being undertaken to improve health care delivery throughout Ontario, from developments in e-Health, to mobile phone applications for children with diabetes, to improvements in hand washing compliance.

Most gratifying, however, was seeing the projects done by the many students present, displayed for the whole conference to see. I was incredibly proud that the work my team had done was one of these projects. Over the better part of the last academic year, five students from various health care-related backgrounds, including myself, have been engaged in a quality improvement project at one of the major hospitals in downtown Toronto. We had the chance to work on a program to improve physician adherence to well-established guidelines on the prevention of serious blood clot formation in the legs of non-mobile patients. We had an opportunity to see how frequently physicians were considering this risk, and to initiate interventions in one department aimed at improving the rates of risk assessment. While results are still preliminary, it does appear as though there was an improvement after these interventions.

After months of dedication demonstrated by my teammates and our in-hospital support, it was very rewarding to not only have our poster be viewed by so many influential individuals. (Having our efforts recognized by being voted 2nd in the conference poster competition was simply icing on the cake.) It was a fitting culmination to over half a year of hard work overcoming challenges to make improvements to the health care system in our community.

The QuIPS conference was an excellent venue to share our story and learn from others, and I can express nothing but appreciation for being given the chance to do so.

Jun 11, 2012

QI Field Trip: The UNH IHI Open School Chapter Comes to Cambridge

By Jessica Hatch, Nursing Student, IHI Open School Chapter Leader, University of New Hampshire

Is your chapter in the Boston area? Have you considered taking advantage of touring the IHI offices and meeting the Open School staff?

If you haven’t, then you should! If you did not know about the opportunity, then start inquiring! And if you are thoroughly disappointed that you are geographically unable to visit, I honestly cannot blame you.

What I can do is offer you an inside scoop on the environment of IHI: engrained in the values of quality improvement and innovation, the offices are the epitome of an unforgettably original and exciting organizational culture.

The IHI offices are housed in the high rises of the Charles Hotel in the heart of Cambridge, overlooking the locally beloved Charles River. Immediately upon exiting the elevators, guests and employees alike are greeted with a motivating segment of the IHI’s mission statement displayed in large font above the reception area. The open floor plan invites group collaboration with only the slightest segmentation of task forces, by either low dividers or glass frames. Each task force is encouraged to gather centrally at their shared tables throughout the day, again showing how highly teamwork is valued in the organization.

Interesting and colorful progress boards are found throughout the hallways, offering information on upcoming goals, previous achievements, and often a comical comment for a good laugh or two. One wall is strictly dedicated to displaying the history behind IHI, like a timeline, reminding all whom explore the building of the hard work and underlying values that have allowed this organization to continually improve and flourish. 

Have I mentioned the numerous quotes strategically strewn throughout the office space? Not only were they visually pleasing, but they were thought provoking and encouraging. As students, we all looked around and could envision ourselves working in such an amazing space. Or perhaps it was the idea that one’s organizational culture could be genuinely represented in the design of their workplace. If we are to proclaim the ideas of interdisciplinary collaboration, transfer of knowledge, empowerment of staff, and evidence-based best practice, what better place to start than to immerse yourself daily in a floor plan that is supportive of just that?

Without going on and on much more about how the beliefs, values, and aspirations of IHI were evident in each staff member as well, I will share the takeaways that a number of fellow peers shared after our tour:

“Inspiring to see quality improvement in action at such a large scale…great opportunity and encouraged us to use IHI resources now and in the future”

“I found all of the quotes on the walls inspiring as well as the enthusiasm of our tour guide and the people with whom we stopped and spoke with along the way. It showed that they are not just people sitting behind desks pushing out tutorials for the front lines. They are passionate about their work, live their mission and vision, and truly care about making hospitals and ambulatory care settings a safer, better environment.”

“At first I was confused as to why we were taking a tour through an office building — aren't they all the same? But I soon learned that there is value in seeing and understanding how IHI employees work.  The atmosphere within the office seems to mirror the philosophies of the organization. Meeting with the IHI Open School team was also a very useful conversation. I didn't realize how new the concept is and how much it is still evolving. I felt that the meeting was beneficial on both sides (I hope it was!) since the Open School course work focuses on quality improvement just as the CNL does.”

“They were extremely kind and do amazing work. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

“The tour encouraged future use of IHI resources when no longer a student IHI is a life-long valuable resource.”

“Their enthusiasm for their work was infectious. Our cohort got so much out of this visit and we are excited about bringing IHI resources into our future practice.”

“IHI is a community of innovative, forward thinkers and it was exciting to see and have hope for the future of health care!”

“I appreciated the folks at their desk that took a minute to tell us what their job entailed. The personalization brought it to life … I’m interested in staying connected and motivated to complete the QI process through IHI.”
“I loved that their work environment matches their philosophy. The workplace truly would inspire collaborative teamwork, creative thinking, and inspired innovations. Everyone was incredibly friendly, open, and approachable. We felt so welcome; it was great to have the open discussion at the end too to learn more about IHI, and it was awesome to see the IHI team genuinely interested in our feedback”

“I greatly appreciated the open management structure. It was nice to see a more horizontal leadership approach outside of the textbook. From my view, openness facilitates the creative process.”