Friday, December 15, 2017

A Quality Improvement Director Goes to the Forum...

This week, staff from DentaQuest’s Institute attended the 2017 Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Forum. During this multi-day conference, healthcare professionals from around the globe meet in Orlando to talk healthcare improvement. While oral healthcare is not a prominent discussion topic, DentaQuest has been attending since 2011. 

At Monday's pre-conference Scientific Symposium, Dr. Natalia Chalmers and Quality Improvement Project Manager Carrie Peltier presented a poster on our Dental Caries Management (DCM) Collaborative results (pictured left). Over 200 posters were submitted for consideration; the Institute’s poster was one of 70 - and the only one on oral health - chosen. Dr. Chalmers commented that the buzz about the importance of good oral health being vital to overall health was inspiring. Many wanted to learn more about the DentaQuest approach.

The general session featured a series of keynotes and 200+ workshops topics covering improvement science, joy in work, leadership, population health, person-centered care, safety, moving from volume to value to name a few. 

This year’s Forum opened from the lens of patient experience. The keynotes challenged care teams to create a bidirectional transfer of knowledge between patient and care team; this is, in fact, an act of caring. Care teams must work to create this space. It truly matters. Keynote Tiffany Christensen commented: we must ask generous questions to know and learn what matters to our patients. Our job is to make sure there is equity. These sentiments very much resonate with the Institute.

Later in the afternoon, we heard from Bryan Stevenson, a social justice advocate. Mr. Stevenson powerfully reminded us that it is our duty to create healthier communities. We must get closer to the poor and to communities that have been marginalized, neglected, and isolated. There is power in proximity. We also need to change the narrative that defines the difference of race. We must stay hopeful, as our hope has to fuel our practice. And lastly, we need to do the things that are uncomfortable. We have to make the choice to do the difficult thing.

General Stanley McChrystal shared his Team of Teams vision. He spoke about organizational change; being at an inflexion point and ready. He talked about ‘shared consciousness,’ meaning to connect on something with purpose and time and focus. “Together we need to project 'this place' where we want to go and make it to fruition.” This requires leadership that composes self-awareness, discipline, decision making, effective communication, connection, constant learning and functional excellence.

Lastly, as is IHI tradition, we heard from Dr. Don Berwick, president emeritus and senior fellow at IHI. Dr. Berwick’s spot-on remarks and reflections on the American healthcare system ring true year after year, and this year was no different. He shared a moving personal story of needing - and using - the healthcare system for his own family. He charged organizations to “snuggle,” meaning outline a clear and common purpose, be all together, or none at all and provide a safe vessel – failures are instructive; it’s OK to try, there can be shared honor, and we must have affection and mutuality. As this culture is what saved his brother.

Healthcare is complex; like the organizations who provide care and coverage. Inter-organizational competition is not the answer; coordination is. And DentaQuest is no different. Leaving this year’s Forum, I couldn’t help but board my plane back to Boston with some puffed feathers … DentaQuest has these pieces. We are prime to be the ‘Leading Voice.’ Improvement work is a social thing. It asks us to reflect, to adjust, to learn from, and to collaborate. It demands that we ask is what we are doing better or more of the same? We want better; we want to improve the oral health for all. That means understanding the system, at the macro, meso and micro levels. All together, or none at all. We must always ask “what do we want to learn over time?” and chart that course.

Cheers to another amazing Forum. Kaiser Permanente sent over 400 staff this year. Won’t you consider joining us next December in Orlando? This stuff matters!


Cindy Hannon, MSW
Quality Improvement Director 
DentaQuest Institute  
"When you believe in this stuff, it is easy to write!"