Why It Matters
One takeaway from the conference: Whatever your interests, you can pursue a career in quality improvement.
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Three Takeaways from a Student-Run Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Conference

By Jaden Schupp | Monday, June 20, 2016

Student-conferenceFor five years, the IHI Open School Chapter at the Baylor College of Medicine has been running its very own conference on quality improvement and patient safety.

This year, the Baylor College of Medicine Annual Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Conference in Houston, Texas, USA, drew 185 attendees and 46 poster presentations. It also offered continuing education credits to physicians and nurses. Below, several students share some of the highlights of what they learned at the conference.

  • Alternative payment models are changing the way care is delivered. We heard from Tracy Spinks, the Program Director for Cancer Care Delivery, about a pilot project at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center that’s aiming to improve the value of care through bundled payments. Bundled payments are a way to finance health care, in which a single, comprehensive payment is made for a patient to cover all health care services received within a pre-defined episode of care. Value was measured as health outcomes per dollar expended. The pilot, which is ongoing until October of 2017, has demonstrated the potential for a transition from traditional fee-for-service reimbursement to a bundled payment model that encourages longitudinal tracking of patient outcomes and promotes the delivery of efficient care. But it’s not easy to do – we also heard about the logistics of setting up alternative payments, and the process of engaging multiple stakeholders, including health care providers, third-party insurance providers, and patients.
  • Whatever your interests, you can pursue a career in quality. A panel of physicians with a variety of backgrounds shared their career paths in QI. A few started before QI was a formal field, paving their own way and learning as they went. The younger faculty were able to receive formal training as QI Chief Residents or through fellowships. There was also a range of how much clinical versus research experience each physician had. Some had full-time QI and administrative positions while others would do QI projects in addition to their regular work. Besides important traditional roles like performing QI research and educating trainees on QI, the panel discussed how large academic institutions now need Directors of Quality Improvement or, on a smaller scale, champions of QI in each department to motivate their colleagues. While many panel participants devote the majority of their time on research and non-clinical responsibilities, they all stressed the importance of spending time with patients in order to connect improvement efforts to what matters to patients.. At the end of the panel, one speaker emphasized that regardless of our career path, we have two jobs: to do the job we were hired for, and to improve the system in which we work in.
  • Quality improvement teachers are in demand. Marc H. Willis, DO, told us about the need for quality improvement faculty who feel confident leading curriculum development. Although many faculty are interested in quality improvement and patient safety, it’s still a relatively new topic in medical education. As a result, students and junior faculty who have taken on roles in quality improvement have an opportunity to pave the way for their peers and the upcoming generation of clinicians. 

Interested in putting together your own QI conference? Check out previous blog posts about organizing our first conference and a few tips for hosting a successful conference. Please feel free to reach out to our Chapter if you have any questions!

—Co-written with Baylor College of Medicine students Ariel Chen, Sarah Lumsden, Kevin Shah, and Kaitlin Whelan.

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