May 14, 2012

Thoughts on the Academy for Healthcare Improvement conference last week

Got back last week from the Academy for Healthcare Improvement (AHI) conference in Arlington, Virginia. I just joined this organization and this was the first AHI conference I have been to. Let me just say that this meeting was completely worth the long West coast to East coast trip.

The meeting focused on using data in a robust way to drive quality improvement. One question asked was about how to get funding for quality improvement (QI) research. Forward-thinking institutions are shifting from relying on traditional funding agencies paying for QI to integrating this work into the operating budgets of their medical centers or health systems.

One conundrum is that institutional QI activities, such as reducing unplanned readmissions, contribute big dollars to the bottom-line of private health insurers. But quite frequently, these are not the folks paying for QI research.

Another speaker discussed the combination of skills in a single person that will be required for the new and emerging jobs in clinical QI. The skill set that employers will look for combines knowledge of clinical medicine, facility in working with large data sets, and strengths in leading and working within teams. It is evident that this combination of skills is quite different from the standard clinician that most medical and nursing schools and clinical training programs are designed to produce.

It was refreshing to note that I heard the terms "run chart" and "SPC chart" more frequently in these 2 days than in any other conference I have ever attended!

The networking opportunities were fabulous and I completely recommend the AHI as well as this conference to anyone interested in learning more about health care quality improvement.

- Ulfat Shaikh

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