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VUMC to participate in AMA effort to advance equitable quality & safety in patient care

May. 23, 2022, 9:46 AM

by Kathy Whitney

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is participating in a learning network designed to help hospital systems apply an equity lens to all aspects of quality and safety practices – with a goal of improving health outcomes for historically marginalized populations.

The Advancing Equity through Quality and Safety Peer Network – a year-long mentorship and networking program that the American Medical Association (AMA) in collaboration with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Joint Commission are piloting – will equip VUMC and seven other participating health systems with the foundational knowledge and concrete tools to embed equity throughout their institutions’ health care delivery practices and advance racial justice and equity for their patients, staff and communities.

“For the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed systemic inequities in the quality and safety of the patient care experience – including gaps in interpretation services, telemedicine access and crisis standards of care,” said AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, MD. “Through collaborations like the Peer Network, the AMA continues its work to remove the social and structural factors that interfere with patient-centered care – providing health systems with guidance to inform equitable solutions, dismantle inequities, and improve health outcomes for our patients from historically marginalized communities.”

Data illustrates the stark contrast in experience and outcomes for historically marginalized patients within health care settings. As one example, studies show that Black, Latinx, and Asian American patients are at a significantly higher risk of contracting – and in many cases, dying from – preventable hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA, C. diff, or catheter-associated UTIs than non-Latinx white patients.

“The striking COVID-19 inequities created an immediate need for our Office of Health Equity to work closely with Dr. Slayton’s quality, safety and risk prevention team,” said Consuelo H. Wilkins, MD, MSCI, Senior Vice President and senior associate dean for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence. “I’m thrilled that we will build on lessons learned during the pandemic and leverage the resources and expertise in the AMA Peer Network to broadly integrate health equity into our quality and safety work across VUMC.”

Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI

Through individual consultations and group learning opportunities with the Peer Network’s panel of subject matter experts, Peer Network participating health systems will learn strategies for systematically identifying and addressing root causes of inequities via an integrated approach to quality, safety, equity, and operations. Utilizing a framework designed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to reduce health inequities within clinical operations by leveraging an infrastructure of quality and safety, this patient-centered approach includes robust structural analyses of racism and equity to support an overall mission of delivering equitable, high-quality care to all patients.

“The Peer Network is providing the learning opportunity to accelerate our capacity to improve equity across patient outcomes,” said Jenny Slayton, DNP, RN, Senior Vice President for Quality, Safety and Risk Prevention. “The partnership with Dr. Wilkins and the Office of Health Equity, as well as the organizations within the AMA collaborative, are instrumental in learning new ways to measure, review and improve our systems and processes to drive improvement for all of our patients and families.”

Jenny Slayton, DNP, RN

The first phase of the Peer Network’s approach will begin with a national group of early adopter institutions as participants, including: VUMC, Atlantic Medical Group/Atlantic Health, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, Ochsner Medical Center, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Wisconsin Hospitals & Clinics.

VUMC team members participating in this collaborative include:

  • Jenny Slayton, DNP, RN – Senior Vice President, Quality, Safety and Risk Prevention.
  • Consuelo H. Wilkins, MD, MSCI – Senior Vice President and Senior Associate Dean for Health Equity and Inclusive Excellence.
  • Brian Carlson, MBA, MHSA – Vice President, Patient Experience.
  • Elisa Friedman, MS – Associate Vice President, Community Health and Health Equity.
  • Tiercy Fortenberry, MSN, RN, CPPS – Senior Director, Quality, Safety and Risk Prevention.
  • Carin McAbee, MA – Senior Program Manager, Quality, Safety and Risk Prevention.
  • Kelly Moore, BS – Senior Quality and Patient Safety Advisor, Quality, Safety and Risk Prevention.

The Peer Network initiative aligns with an approach to address all determinants of health outlined in the AMA’s three-year strategic plan dedicated to embedding racial justice and advancing health equity, calling on physicians to help dismantle the structural and social drivers of health inequities. Learn more about ongoing efforts at the AMA’s Center for Health Equity.

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