To close out the 2018 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Quality Conference on February 14, Terence Lutes, former associate chief information officer at the Internal Revenue Service, took the stage to motivate attendees to set and achieve bold, ambitious aims.
A former Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal winner, Lutes’s message was simple: If you want to change things, rebel against the norm and embrace creativity. Approach your work by getting out of the box and imagining the solution. Then, when opportunity hits, you’ll be ready.
“A lot of people say an apple fell on Newton’s head, and that’s why he discovered gravity. But he was already thinking about the problem,” Lutes said.
Other keys to change, according to Lutes, include finding disruptive thinkers and allies, designing as if it matters, and remembering no obstacle is too big if it is the right thing to do.
"If you want to change things, rebel against the norm and embrace creativity."
Health Equity Awards
Cara James, director of CMS’s Office of Minority Health, took the stage to present CMS’s first-ever Health Equity Awards, which recognize individuals and organizations working to reduce health disparities among vulnerable populations.
Novant Health, the first awardee, was recognized for "Reducing Disparities in Hospital Readmissions." From January to September 2017, the health care provider's readmission rate for African-Americans discharged with pneumonia fell from 4 percent to 2 percent. Novant also achieved a 50 percent reduction in the disparity between African-American patients and others.
Kaiser Permanente was recognized for its Hypertension Program Improvement Process, which significantly reduced disparities in blood pressure control rates across racial and ethnic groups. From 2009 to 2017, the organization achieved an increase in African-American Medicare members with controlled hypertension from 75.3 percent to 89.6 percent. The organization also achieved a 58 percent reduction in the gap between African-Americans and Whites from 5.3 percentage points to 2.2 percentage points.
Dennis Wagner, director of the CMS Quality Improvement and Innovation Group within the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality, wrapped up the conference, commenting, “We wind up; we don’t wind down. And I am pretty wound up after these past few days.”
He reemphasized the most important takeaways from the conference — aligning with new administration priorities, committing to action and systematically including patients, “not just at the conference but throughout our work.”
In conclusion, Wagner said, “There are millions of ‘candles’ we work with every day that are a beacon of light for health care. We have the choice to be both the mirror that reflects and the candle that provides the light. Thank you for being both, for being here and for putting patients over paperwork at the 2018 CMS Quality Conference.”