• Article
  • October 27, 2021

The Next Phase of Work in Improving the Quality of Children’s Health Care

As executive leaders of our nation’s children’s hospitals, we have an imperative to improve health and health care outcomes for children.

By Katy Welkie

As children’s hospitals, we are at a pivotal point on our journey to improve the quality of children’s health care and achieve better health outcomes for all children. The events of the past 20 months have brought clarity and urgency to the work we must do.

Looking forward, we are bolstered by what we have achieved together in the last 25 years to prepare us for this next step. We are ready. Individually and collectively, our hospitals and health systems have:

  • Developed expertise in quality improvement science.
  • Improved data and analytic tools to inform and augment our efforts.
  • Made progress we once thought was impossible.

Re-imagining quality is important work, and it will require more than a simple shift in mindset. We must use the data we have—not as a means for competition, but to understand where there are gaps, monitor improvement and measure outcomes.

Similarly, while we’ve made progress in safety, we have work to do across the domains of quality including timeliness, effectiveness, efficiency, equity and patient centeredness (STEEEP).

The focus of our work will also be important. It’s time to look beyond the ways of the hospital and look at the populations of children and patients we can affect or influence in a powerful way. How will we address opportunities in behavioral health, care coordination across the continuum from hospital to home, and the overall health and well-being of children in our communities?

This effort will require us to work differently and at many levels— from the care we deliver in our clinical areas and community settings, to working upstream with community organizations, bringing clinicians, families and teams together.

Solutions will require that we partner humbly, lending our expertise to each other to affect outcomes. We’ll continue to learn as we improve and advance the care that we are providing to children.

Finally, as a member of the CHA Board of Trustees and the Quality and Safety Committee, and in my role as CEO of Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, I think about what will be required of leadership to help us move forward.

We must broaden our thinking and ask important questions about how we will prioritize resources, investments and our time differently moving forward. We need to not only grasp and set the vision but understand our current state and the gaps we must close to achieve the end point.

In the next stage of the journey to improve the quality of children’s health care and achieve better outcomes, we will reflect on the wisdom and lessons from the giants of quality and safety that have been with us for years. We also embrace a new generation of leaders who bring energy and ideas to accelerate and move this work forward across our organizations, on the front lines and in partnership with others.

Catch up on the next generation of quality discussions through a series of on-demand webinars.

Katy Welkie, RN, MBA, is CEO of Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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