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Learning through quality improvements: Joint summit encourages collaboration, innovation

Learning through quality improvements:  Joint summit encourages collaboration, innovation

FEATURE ARTICLE / By Sheanna M. Spence

Physicians and health care professionals thrive in an environment that requires critical thinking and problem solving on a daily basis. Honing those skills through real-world applications in the outpatient, inpatient and pharmacy settings are part of what Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and Cabell Huntington Hospital are working to achieve through their annual Joint Quality & Safety Summit.

The 6th Annual Summit, held April 16, 2019, at the Marshall University Medical Center, featured more than 70 poster presentations from team members, students, resident physicians, fellows and faculty that showcased integrated, sustainable and/or interdisciplinary quality improvement and patient safety projects from the School of Medicine, Marshall Health and Cabell Huntington Hospital. Twelve family medicine residents from our affiliated partnership with Holzer Health System also joined their Marshall counterparts and presented posters reflecting their work on enhancing patient safety and quality improvement.

“The main value in quality improvement and patient safety efforts is to maintain high quality care and recognize situations that either pose safety concerns for patients or medical providers,” said James B. Becker, M.D., vice dean for government relations, health care policy & external affairs at the School of Medicine. “As an academic medical center, it’s our job to teach trainees to make quality of care a high priority in their practice and give them the skills to recognize where there might be room for improvement.”  

Quality improvements in treating opioid use disorder

The half-day Summit kicked off with a keynote address delivered by Rick Massatti, Ph.D., MSW, MPH, LSW, on “Quality Improvements in Treating Opioid Use Disorder.” As the State Opioid Treatment Authority for the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Massatti outlined Ohio’s extensive work in establishing models and charting quality improvements in opioid treatment across the state.

Massatti shared best practices from Ohio’s Maternal Care Home Model, including major findings from its Maternal Opiate Medical Support (MOMS) pilot program.

At the state level, Massatti said initiating quality improvement means recruiting quality improvement representatives or top management from other agencies to get involved. Then, the job becomes generating excitement about your efforts. 

Implementation of quality improvement projects

The School of Medicine emphasizes the Plan-Do-Study-Act, or PDSA, cycle for quality improvement initiatives. Through the process, the physician, student or team member recognizes that something isn’t working as well as they think it should. They then analyze problem to try to determine what to change and study how well that change impacts the concern.

The issue may require repeated PDSA cycles until the new system works effectively and efficiently.

“At the School of Medicine, we are working hard to insert more quality improvement into course curriculum and clinical experiences,” Becker said. “We also continue to identify more and more tools so that we are continuously encouraging student involvement in these processes.”

Within the hospital setting, improvement ideas and project leadership comes from every level within the hospital and medical school and includes students, residents and faculty along with nurses, therapists, technologists and frontline staff. 

Dustin Baum, PharmD, a pharmacy practice resident at Cabell Huntington Hospital, and Ken Kurek, PharmD, a clinical pharmacy specialist at Hoops Family Children’s Hospital at Cabell Huntington Hospital, presented their work, which evaluated the use of collagenase in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at a small community hospital, at the Summit. Through their research, they found that the medication, often used in the healing of burns and skin ulcers, cost on average about $1,000 per tube, yet only about one-fourth of the tube was being used for one patient, leading to a costly waste. Through their research, they found that repackaging the tubes would not only save the hospital resources, it would also make the medication more affordable and therefore accessible to more patients, Baum said.

The idea of interdisciplinary teamwork, showcased through the Quality & Safety Summit, promotes scientific inquiry and improved patient care.

“One of the most exciting aspects of delivering health care in an academic medical center is the opportunity to continuously learn from the innovative work of interdisciplinary teams,” said Hoyt J. Burdick, M.D., chief medical officer at Cabell Huntington Hospital. “Each year these projects result in improved patient care within the hospital and clinics, while several have also advanced medical knowledge through published scholarly articles,” Burdick said.

In addition to the direct benefits to the patient, the care team and/or the organization, quality improvement and safety efforts are equally important to regulatory agencies such as the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) and The Joint Commission.

Award-winning presentations

The projects and posters are carefully evaluated by a panel of judges to determine awards in four main areas—quality improvement, patient safety, interdisciplinary teamwork and sustainability. The School of Medicine and Cabell Huntington Hospital both present awards for poster presentations in the following categories.

Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine

  • Outstanding Resident Quality Improvement Award
  • Outstanding Resident Patient Safety Award
  • Vice Dean’s Award for Best Integrated/Sustainable Quality Improvement Project
  • Outstanding Student Quality Improvement Award
  • Outstanding Student Patient Safety Award
  • Franklin D. Shuler, M.D., Program Award- awarded to the residency program with the most posters

Cabell Huntington Hospital

  • CHH Outstanding Patient Safety Award
  • CHH Outstanding Quality Improvement Award
  • Chief Medical Officer’s Outstanding Interdisciplinary Team Project Award

View the complete list of winners from the 6th Annual Quality & Safety Summit.


Sheanna M. Spence is the director of external affairs for the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. A native of Huntington, West Virginia, Sheanna enjoys sharing stories about the work of Marshall students, faculty, researchers and alumni working to make a difference in the Mountain State.  


Date Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2019