Temi, tell us about yourself. How did you end up working with the Primary Care Coalition?
Over the past 13 years, I have worked in different areas of public health, from community research to healthcare management. I’ve also worked on various topics within these areas, like tobacco cessation, rural health, and quality improvement.
My educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s in public health, a post-graduate certificate in patient safety and quality, and current enrollment in the Franklin University doctoral program in healthcare administration. I am also a certified Health Education Specialist and Six Sigma Yellow Belt.
My training is broad, and it has involved so many pieces of the public health system. I ultimately decided to work with PCC because of the mission. I was drawn to PCC’s systems focus because I believe infrastructure development is a cornerstone for a healthy community.
Why are you passionate about data-driven quality improvement?
Quality improvement (QI) data tells the story of what is happening currently and what can be done to improve. The QI process offers tools for improvement efforts and, ultimately, better health outcomes. The beauty of QI is that if a specific tool doesn’t produce the desired results, we can try another one if it’s not working the way we planned. It’s very much a living process in that way, and the focus is not on reaching a finite metric but on constantly finding ways to do better.
Using your work with Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) as an example, could you describe how using data can improve clinical quality?
Data reveals or explains. For example, a SNF might know it has a high readmission rate, but it might not know why. Reviewing the data might show that readmission rates are reasonable for most patients but significantly higher for those with diabetes. Identifying that trend helps the SNF focus its efforts on the needs of patients with diabetes and testing strategies to improve their care. Since the process began from specific data, the SNF can use that same baseline to evaluate the effectiveness of their changes to diabetes care. They’ll keep reviewing and testing and create continuous improvement opportunities.
You worked with Skilled Nursing Facilities for a long time, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, your expertise in quality improvement translated to other types of settings. Describe how your approach and philosophy of quality improvement translates across care settings.
Historically QI tools have been used in many industries, from automobile manufacturing to healthcare. QI is a multidisciplinary, system-focused, and data-driven approach to understanding and improving outcomes. I look at a problem and think, how can I improve the quality, reduce cost, and ensure good results? This is how I have been able to move across sectors and projects within PCC and throughout my career. For example, early in the COVID-19 pandemic, PCC began working on infection control measures with group homes serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In addition to my role with the SNF Alliance for quality improvement, I also worked with group homes. They have some of the same congregate living risks we saw with SNFs, but without the healthcare expertise. We were able to develop a learning collaborative and work with the group to understand their needs and implement quality improvement projects. These homes are their own systems that operate from sets of policies and procedures. We were able to think through those together to decide where testing new procedures might protect staff and residents better.
What, in your view, are the biggest challenges?
The constant change in SNF leadership—within the facility and on a corporate level—is hard. This continuous change in leadership sometimes presses the reset button on all our work to establish collaboration and partnerships. It’s important to maintain quality improvement progress during those transition periods when leadership changes mean rebuilding relationships.
What have you found rewarding about this work?
Having the data means being able to show improvement in patient health outcomes. Being able to see real change is gratifying. Apart from the numbers, hearing success stories from the SNFs themselves is rewarding. Because we have a collaborative learning setting for quality improvement, SNF representatives can also help colleagues at other facilities learn from their intervention experiences. The work we’re doing can have life beyond a single healthcare organization.
For those who are interested, more information is available online about clinical quality and the Montgomery Cares FY21 Performance Measures.