QIOs in Action: How Three QIN-QIOs Put CMS Quality Conference Learnings Into Action

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The 2018 Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) Quality Conference will bring together CMS program leaders, contractors, federal partners, clinicians, patients, advocates and thought leaders in Baltimore, Maryland from February 12-14. Featuring new priorities, partnerships and opportunities for innovation, this year’s CMS Quality Conference will be a unique opportunity to share insights and spread solutions for health care quality improvement.  

For these best practices and lessons learned to make an impact, they need to be put into action. We recently spoke with three Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organizations (QIN-QIOs) about some of their key takeaways from past conferences and why they are looking forward to this year’s event.

What is your best takeaway from past conferences?

“Nothing makes a stronger impact than a person’s story,” said Carla Thomas, director of care transitions at Health Quality Innovators—the QIN-QIO for Virginia and Maryland. “Hearing former patients talk about their health care experiences during previous conferences was so motivating for me. They remind me that we can’t do this work alone, that more work needs to be done, and that health care impacts us all.”

Vanessa Andow, project director at TMF Quality Innovation Network—the QIN-QIO for Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico and Texas—said: “During the 2016 Quality Conference, the audience was introduced to Dr. Richard Gibney, a nephrologist who implemented an Empowered Dialysis program in Waco, Texas, one of TMF QIN-QIO’s Readmission Communities. It was amazing to see one of our own partners highlighted on a national platform. This honor reinvigorated not just our community partners but also our team. The biggest takeaway for me is that excellence exists in all of our areas, even if we may not be aware of it.”

“My single best takeaway is the use of an elevator speech,” said Eve Esslinger, network task lead at Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network—the QIN-QIO for Delaware, Louisiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. “Shared by another QIO during a past CMS Quality Conference, elevator speeches can be used as a recruitment technique. We’ve adopted this approach and educated our staff in using it. At Quality Insights, we even developed a tip sheet on an elevator speech.

How have you put what you learned at past Quality Conferences into action when you returned home?

“During last year’s event, we learned about the Tableau Software and how others were using it to analyze and understand contract data,” said Andow. “Upon returning home, our team gathered and reviewed the application. We are now using the application across all task areas. We look forward to learning about new innovations during the 2018 event.”

“Every CMS Quality Conference provides great examples of successful partnerships and reminds participants that we need to network,” said Esslinger. “Our project goals are more successful when we partner with national, state, and local organizations. I’ve made it a point to plan and coordinate with Hospital Improvement Innovation Networks (HIINs), other QIN-QIOs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other organizations. For example, outpatient antibiotic stewardship requires national, state and local support and coordination. Partnering with HIINs in our work on inpatient antibiotic stewardship provides a consistent message to providers—that antibiotic stewardship is more effective when we work together across all settings.”

“During past conferences, Leadership for Organizing and Action (LOA) training sessions immersed many of us into the material and featured sharing from other QIN-QIOs,” said Thomas. “Those experiences kept me interested in doing more, and now we are incorporating the curriculum into our current work with care transitions communities.”

What excites you most about attending the 2018 CMS Quality Conference?

“Every year, I learn so much as the conference grows larger,” said Thomas. “This year, I’m looking forward to collaborating with others during interactive learning sessions. I have kept in touch with people I met in sessions over the years, and it’s always great to spend time with them in person and meet new colleagues. The gallery walk of posters is such a fun way to learn about successful and innovative programs. Finally, the social media experience also grows every year to keep everything connected.”

“The opportunity to network with people from various organizations and parts of the country is really important to me,” said Andow. “It is energizing to connect with others who share the same passion for excellence.”

“I am excited to connect with my colleagues from QIN-QIOs, HIINs and other organizations,” said Esslinger. “There are plenty of networking opportunities at the CMS Quality Conference. It’s always good to visit with people whom I already know, recognize names from conference calls or webinars, and meet others for the first time.”