New faces of quality improvement
Leaders leave, one returns in quality, safety arenas
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.