CMS Quality Conference Q&A with Jean Moody-Williams

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Jean Moody-Williams, CMS
Jean Moody-Williams, CMS

Jean Moody-Williams, RN, MPP, is the Deputy Director of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ) at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). She is a member of the leadership team responsible for one of CMS’ Centers that has more than 400 employees and a $3 billion annual budget. She is responsible for working with a great team to lead policy activities for Quality Improvement Programs, End Stage Renal Disease Networks, Survey and Certification, Quality Measurement and Health Assessment, Clinical Standards, Coverage and Analysis, Quality Innovations Models and many of the agency’s Value Based Purchasing and public reporting programs for hospitals, physicians and ambulatory settings.

Prior to this, she was the Group Director for the CMS Quality Improvement Group (QIG) in CMS and provided oversight for the nation’s Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs), and the End Stage Renal Disease Quality Networks, which provide a national infrastructure to support technical assistance, learning and action networks, and a variety of value and quality improvement efforts across the entire continuum of care. She also served as the Director of Quality for CMS Medicaid Programs.

Prior to joining CMS, Moody-Williams served as an executive at a number of state and private entities working to improve care for patients and families, including the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC), the National Resource Center for Health Policy and Strategies, Quality Improvement Organizations and a health care system in Dallas. She is also a clinician.

She is the author of the book, "Transitions, Trust and Triumph: A Daily Devotion for Caregivers." She received her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Hampton University and a Masters of Public Policy and Management from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Q. How long have you been involved with the CMS Quality Conference – formerly known as QualityNet?

Since the first day I joined CMS, I’ve been involved with the conference. I came to CMS 10 years ago as the director of Medicaid Quality and even at that time attended the conference because I wanted to learn what the agency was doing in the area of quality improvement. I saw it as an opportunity to apply what I learned to my Medicaid-related work. Prior to joining CMS, I worked for a QIO and attended CMS quality-related meetings, though they may have had a different name at that time.

Q. Tell us a bit about how the conference has evolved or changed over the years.

I would say the conference initially presented an opportunity to bring together QIOs from across the nation to discuss contract issues, information system requirements, and the sharing of best practices. While the conference focused on quality improvement, there was also quite a bit of time dedicated to ironing out contract-related tasks. Now CMS uses different avenues to address contract-related issues, including webinar-based meetings and conference calls with QIOs. As a result, the conference itself has become more focused on supporting a learning system for Medicare and sharing strategies for providing better care, creating healthier communities and ensuring smarter spending. The conference now focuses heavily on beneficiaries’ needs and experiences, implementing LEAN practices and serving as a catalyst for innovation. The audience for the conference has grown each year, now incorporating all stakeholders in the quality improvement spectrum across the continuum of care. This year, for the first time, we’re including Practice Transformation Networks, which are peer-based learning networks designed to coach, mentor and assist clinicians as they transition away from fee-for-services to systems of care based on aligning cost, quality and person and family experiences. Most importantly, the CMS Quality Conference has a stronger consumer voice than ever before.

Q. How does the CMS Quality Conference differ from other national health quality conferences?

It’s one of the largest federal health quality conferences in the country with a broad base of stakeholders. All of these stakeholders come together to work toward a common goal – implementing the CMS Quality Strategy, which, in turn, aligns with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS)National Quality Strategy. Another distinguishing factor is that the CMS Quality Conference is results- and action-oriented, enabling participants to share success stories, learn from colleagues and spread ideas that are working.

Q. What are some of your favorite memories from past CMS Quality Conferences?

There have been many memorable moments for me, particularly those involving family members who shared their personal experiences with the health care system, fully engaging the audience. I’ve also enjoyed the compelling stories from frontline health care workers who brought the concept of health care quality to life. To cite one example, a few years ago, a nursing assistant from a long-term care facility told her story about a day in the life of providing care to nursing home residents and the barriers preventing her from providing even better care. Another memorable occasion – just last year – was when HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell presented at the conference and interacted with patients and families before her speech.

Q. What are you most looking forward to about this year’s event?

I’m most looking forward to seeing all of the health quality professionals from across our nation and hearing how passionate they are about what they do. They arrive charged up and ready to work, and they leave fully motivated to take action and even more committed to improving the quality of care.

Q. Anything else you would like conference attendees and QIO News readers to know?

The key to getting the most out of the CMS Quality Conference is to come with an open mind, be willing to share and learn, and be prepared to move and act. Participants will get to know new people and information they didn’t know before. They can take these learnings back to their jobs, share them with colleagues and put them into practice. It’s a great learning opportunity for all of us.