In Case You Missed It: IHI’s Top Picks from 2023

In Case You Missed It: IHI’s Top Picks from 2023

Why It Matters

It has been a year for considering new ways of taking on perennial health care challenges while also getting back to basics. 


As Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) President and CEO Kedar Mate wryly noted during his 2023 IHI Forum keynote, one could have said, “today we live in a challenging time” during every one of the last few years. This does not make the statement any less true as we look back on the past 12 months.

It has been a year for considering new ways of taking on perennial health care challenges while also getting back to basics. We hope you find these Insights posts, resources, and publications useful, thought-provoking, or even inspiring. Here, in no particular order, are IHI’s top picks of the year:

Advancing Safety

  • This year IHI launched our “Turn on the Lights” podcast hosted by IHI’s Kedar Mate and IHI President Emeritus and Senior Fellow Don Berwick. Patient advocate Sue Sheridan of Patients for Patient Safety US was the featured guest on one of the most downloaded episodes of the year, “What Happened to Patient Safety.”
  • Regarding workforce safety, in an interview with RamaOnHealthcare, Jeff Salvon-Harman, IHI Vice President, Safety, asserted that health care has been too reliant on individual resilience programs and not focused enough on addressing moral injury and distress. “We cannot expect highly qualified professionals to outperform poorly designed systems in any industry, and health care has been slow to invest in systemic change to reduce friction, frustration, and moral distress of its clinical workforce,” he said.
  • In Africa, more than 600,000 people die every year after surgery, mostly from causes that are relatively easy to treat. In fact, more patients die from post-surgical complications in Africa than all deaths from tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria combined. Early in 2023, IHI launched a QI demonstration project with 10 hospitals in Ethiopia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda to test how to support the reliable implementation of the “5Rs for Rescue,” five sequential care steps projected to cut post-surgical mortality by 25 percent.

Taking Equity to the Next Level

Joy in Work and Well-Being for the Health Care Workforce

Rethinking Quality

  • Generative artificial intelligence (AI) undeniably hit the mainstream this past year after OpenAI released an early demo of ChatGPT in late 2022. In a preview of his IHI Forum 2023 keynote address, Peter Lee, Corporate Vice President of Research and Incubations at Microsoft, remarked, “A generative AI system like GPT-4 is both smarter than anyone you’ve met and dumber than anyone you’ve met. I think we both assume too much and too little about its potential in health care.” An IHI research team conducted a 90-day innovation project on the present and future of AI and quality improvement (QI) and shared a list of recommendations for health care leaders to build on the interest and mitigate the risks of using AI tools for QI.
  • QI alone is insufficient to manage the many priorities and demands placed on our current health care systems. Another of the year's most popular posts made the case for embedding quality control (“The Misunderstood Essential for Improvement”) into daily work to help internally monitor performance, assess progress, and help systems to direct improvement resources to where they are needed most.

Leadership Lessons

  • Health care leaders have increasingly come to recognize that we cannot continue to make inroads in improving patient safety and workforce well-being, tackle health equity, reduce the cost of care, and strengthening population health without attending to the causes and effects of a changing climate. An article in Healthcare Executive describes steps health system leaders can take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through effective governance systems; diverse stakeholder engagement, including environmental impact as a key dimension of quality and safety; and establishing more sustainable supply chain practices.
  • Building on the findings of an IHI Health Improvement Alliance Europe workgroup, Derek Feeley, IHI President Emeritus and Senior Fellow, shared “5 Simple Rules for Curious Leaders” in one of IHI’s most popular interviews of 2023. “We are more likely to find solutions closer to the point of care than the executive suite. If [leaders] ask questions first, before stating our opinions and thoughts, we will hear ideas and a range of views we might not otherwise receive,” Feeley said.

Photo by Claudio Schwarz | Unsplash