NAHQ Joins IHI National Steering Committee for Patient Safety

NAHQ Joins IHI National Steering Committee for Patient Safety

Recently at the invitation of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), NAHQ joined more than 20 other organizations from the healthcare, policy, regulatory, and advocacy communities to bring renewed energy and focus toward developing a national strategy for patient safety. Together, these organizations make up the National Steering Committee for Patient Safety.  

NAHQ CEO and Executive Director Stephanie Mercado, CAE, shared her thoughts on NAHQ’s participation in this important work.

Why did IHI convene this National Steering Committee now? 

Experts have called for increased coordination to improve patient safety for decades, however coordinated initiatives have not been fully designed or instituted. Consequently, many safety efforts demonstrate significant variability, with some organizations accelerating and sustaining degrees of progress more than others. IHI, which merged with the National Patient Safety Foundation in 2017, believes that despite areas of progress, a purposefully designed initiative that convenes and coordinates key organizations will accelerate progress and foster sustainable improvements. The purpose of the National Steering Committee is to advance patient safety through the creation of a National Action Plan for the Prevention of Health Care Harm (National Action Plan) using a public health framework based on increased collaboration among key stakeholders. The anticipated outcome of the convening of a National Steering Committee and creation of a National Action Plan is safer health care in the United States. 

How will the committee’s work impact healthcare quality professionals? 

Healthcare Quality Professionals are at the front lines of safety. The National Action Plan will likely address topics like governance imperatives for quality and safety, the role of engaged persons/patients in care, the importance of a safe healthcare workforce, and the need for a learning culture in healthcare. These should favorably impact quality professionals, by removing real and artificial barriers to progress in their work environment. Also, because NAHQ is represented in this National Steering Committee, the priorities of quality are being considered as the National Action Plan is developed.  

What is the significance of NAHQ’s participation on the committee? 

Daily, I encounter stories from NAHQ constituents about challenges in their work and the real barriers that a lack of a common vocabulary and understanding of quality presents in the workplace. This is one example of a barrier that I am able to highlight in the committee’s conversations; if we are to do quality and safety better, we need a national commitment to speaking the same language. And, we need a learning culture so that improvement can be achieved at a lower personal cost. I am reminded of the good work of NAHQ’s Ethics Task Force, and NAHQ’s updated Code of Ethics, which was published just this Spring. This important work highlights the ethical responsibilities of quality professionals, and we know that ethical behaviors are better received in a learning culture. Also, we are seeing technical evolutions and innovations like artificial intelligence become hot topics. And, we see leaders looking for these solutions to ‘fix’ quality. While these technical advancements are important, the impact of the technology will likely be under-leveraged without attention to some of the basics of quality, like data integrity and utility.  

What are the next steps for the committee? 

The co-chairs of this group Tejal K. Gandhi, MD MPH CPPS, IHI chief clinical and safety officer, and Jeffrey Brady, MD MPH, director, Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, will work with IHI staff to summarize our inaugural meeting, and to assign task force chairs to focus on next steps. 

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