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Collaboration Is Key: Five Practical Points for a Successful IHI Open School–Sponsored Quality and Safety Conference

By IHI Open School | Wednesday, July 9, 2014
By Ann Chou, MS3, Baylor College of Medicine 

This past May, the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) IHI Open School Chapter hosted the BCM Quality and Safety Conference in Houston, Texas. Our conference topic was “Defining Value in Healthcare: The Patient, Provider, and Payer Perspective.” To speak on this topic, we welcomed Dr. Emily Sedgwick, Assistant Professor of Radiology at BCM; Dr. Angelo Giardino, Chief Quality Officer at Texas Children’s Hospital; Dr. Laura Petersen, Director of the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center; and Katharine Luther, Vice President at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. 

Our Chapter learned countless lessons from organizing this conference, and we want to share a few of them that could help any IHI Open School Chapter looking to plan a similar event. Here are five practical pointers: 
  1. Secure faculty champions to advocate for your Chapter’s event. Our Chapter was fortunate to have the support of Dr. Emily Sedgwick and Dr. David Berger as conference co-directors in the nascent stages of planning. Having faculty members working alongside our Chapter members allowed us to brainstorm for an event that would appeal to both faculty and trainees. Additionally, our faculty supporters were able to use their networks to draw broader support and funding for our event. 
  2. Select a time to accommodate both trainees and faculty. Our two previous conferences had been scheduled for mid-day or mid-afternoon, which attracted mostly students who were in the medical center for classes or rotations. This year, we decided to push the conference to later in the day, from 4:00–7:00 PM, in order to accommodate residents and faculty who could now come directly from their clinical duties to the conference. This scheduling change paid off well, as 54 practicing MD/DOs, 68 trainees (fellows, residents, medical students), and 41 other attendees (RN/DNP, SW, MPH, PhD etc.) were able to attend the conference for a total of 163 attendees, a substantial across-the-board increase from previous years. 
  3. Collaborate with your institution’s Continuing Medical Education (CME) Office. To provide further draw for residents and faculty members, we decided to offer CME credit for attending the conference. We reached out to BCM’s CME office for their expertise. Your institution’s CME office likely has its own infrastructure in place to oversee registration and printed materials for the conference, as well as a list of trusted vendors for catering or rentals. The BCM CME office was so enthusiastic about the topic our Chapter chose that they agreed to record our conference’s lectures for CME online enduring material. Finally, we made one of the credits an Ethics credit, which is generally a more difficult-to-acquire credit than others. 
  4. Invite non-medical perspectives to have a voice at your conference. Quality and safety initiatives benefit from interdisciplinary voices at all levels of training, both inside and outside the medical field. Keeping with our conference theme of “value from the patient, provider, and payer perspectives,” our planning committee invited several BCM patients and employees from local health insurance companies to attend our conference. These unique audience members were able to offer their viewpoints on the conference topics, as well as field questions from other audience members, during the Q&A sessions. 
  5. Host a poster session to offer a showcase and networking opportunity for attendees. A poster session was the perfect opportunity for attendees to see the accomplishments in quality and safety work throughout the Texas Medical Center. We received submissions from a wide range of attendees, from undergraduate college students to health services research faculty. With the support of BCM’s Chief Residents in Quality and Safety, Dr. Molly Horstman and Dr. Jennifer Cowart, we organized the process of soliciting and judging nearly 50 poster session submissions. Two outstanding posters were selected for brief oral presentations during the conference. During the cocktail hour after the conference, students, pharmacists, nurses, residents, and faculty members gathered to view the posters and chat with their creators.
Katherine Luther, RN, Vice President at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement,
pictured above with the event organizers. 
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