New faces of qual­ity im­prove­ment

Lead­ers leave, one re­turns in qual­ity, safety are­nas

Modern Healthcare - - Front Page - Mau­reen McKin­ney

This sum­mer has been a sea­son of change for the pa­tient safety and qual­ity ef­fort, with prom­i­nent play­ers leav­ing for new jobs and one for­mer safety ad­vo­cate ready­ing a re­turn. Last week, the As­so­ci­a­tion for Pro­fes­sion­als in In­fec­tion Con­trol and Epi­demi­ol­ogy an­nounced the res­ig­na­tion of CEO Kathy Warye, ef­fec­tive Oct. 31. Warye, who has held the CEO post for six years, will move to a new lead­er­ship po­si­tion in the pri­vate sec­tor, as­sum­ing the role of vice pres­i­dent, in­fec­tion pre­ven­tion, at Bec­ton, Dick­in­son and Co., a med­i­cal technology com­pany based in Franklin Lakes, N.J.

The Cam­bridge, Mass.-based In­sti­tute for Health­care Im­prove­ment looked to re­plen­ish its ranks af­ter the loss this year of founder Don­ald Ber­wick, who is now CMS ad­min­is­tra­tor. Jef­frey Sel­berg, for­mer pres­i­dent and CEO of Ex­em­pla Health­care, a three-hos­pi­tal sys­tem based in Den­ver, was hired to take the ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer spot at the IHI va­cated by Mau­reen Bisog­nano, who as­sumed the top spot at IHI af­ter Ber­wick left. Sel­berg left Ex­em­pla in Jan­uary, af­ter the Lenexa, Kan.-based Sis­ters of Char­ity of Leavenworth Health Sys­tem took over con­trol of the sys­tem.

And the orig­i­nal CEO of the Leapfrog Group, Suzanne Del­banco, said she is plan­ning to re­turn to the qual­ity im­prove­ment world af­ter less than two years spent lead­ing the health­care di­vi­sion of Ar­rowsight, Mount Kisco, N.Y. Ar­rowsight Med­i­cal mar­kets sur­veil­lance tools, such as video and mo­tion de­tec­tors, which are used to en­sure hos­pi­tal em­ploy­ees’ com­pli­ance with hand hy­giene pro­to­cols and other safety prac­tices.

Del­banco says she plans to of­fi­cially an­nounce her new po­si­tion in Septem­ber. She didn’t name her soon-to-be em­ployer, but did hint that she will be tran­si­tion­ing to an or­ga­ni­za­tion with a mis­sion “that is very sim­i­lar to Leapfrog.”

“The pas­sage of health re­form has opened up a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties to make a real dif­fer­ence,” Del­banco said in an in­ter­view.

The changeover from one CEO to an­other is likely to be rel­a­tively easy for APIC, which, as a pro­fes­sional or­ga­ni­za­tion, has a clearly de­fined mis­sion and scope of work, said Peter Pronovost, pa­tient-safety ex­pert, anes­the­si­ol­o­gist and di­rec­tor of the Qual­ity and Safety Re­search Group at Johns Hopkins Uni­ver­sity, Bal­ti­more.

APIC said in an Aug. 24 state­ment that it ex­pects to com­plete the search process for Warye’s suc­ces­sor within six months.

“Dur­ing Warye’s ten­ure, APIC dou­bled in size and be­came a key ad­viser to fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments and more than 30 health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions,” the as­so­ci­a­tion said in a news re­lease.

Warye also ap­peared at the No. 46 spot on Mod­ern Health­care’s lat­est 100 Most Pow­er­ful Peo­ple in Health­care (Aug. 23, p. 6).

Some ex­perts say the road may be bumpier for the IHI.

Pa­tient-safety ad­vo­cate Robert Wachter was less than op­ti­mistic about the changes in a re­cent post­ing on his blog, “Wachter’s World.” Wachter, chief of the di­vi­sion of hos­pi­tal medicine at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at San Fran­cisco, said that de­spite Bisog­nano’s im­pres­sive skill set, she lacks Ber­wick’s charisma—a de­fi­ciency he says will make it hard for the IHI to main­tain its mo­men­tum.

Wachter praised Bisog­nano’s lead­er­ship abil­i­ties in an in­ter­view. But he said she doesn’t have Ber­wick’s vi­sion and abil­ity to bring peo­ple on­board. Still, Wachter pre­dicted the IHI could find suc­cess as long as it rec­og­nized the strengths and weak­nesses of its new lead­ers, par­tic­u­larly be­cause Bisog­nano is not a physi­cian.

Sim­i­larly, Pronovost called Bisog­nano a ca­pa­ble leader, but he said the IHI could strug­gle to stay rel­e­vant be­cause so many or­ga­ni­za­tions have en­tered the qual­ity im­prove­ment space, and be­cause their abil­ity to work along­side the CMS could be limited by po­ten­tial con­flicts of in­ter­est.

Bisog­nano was un­avail­able for com­ment, but in a July state­ment, IHI board chair­man A. Blan­ton God­frey said she was the ideal suc­ces­sor to Ber­wick and called her “a prom­i­nent author­ity on im­prov­ing health­care sys­tems.”

Del­banco was also con­fi­dent in the IHI’s abil­ity to change and move for­ward. “Don and Mau­reen worked very closely to­gether, and I think the tran­si­tion will be smooth,” she said. “I be­lieve there is a real value to lead­ers not stay­ing in their po­si­tions for too long. IHI might take a new course, and CMS will ben­e­fit from the ex­pe­ri­ences that Don has had. There is a time and place for move­ment among lead­er­ship, and I think it can re­ally bring new ideas and per­spec­tives.”

Del­banco, from top left, plans to re­turn from the pri­vate sec­tor, Sel­berg will be ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and COO at IHI, while Warye will move to a lead­er­ship post at Bec­ton, Dick­in­son and Co.

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