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The Quality Commons Wins National Competition For Designation as Healthcare ACTION Network

Posted By Prucia Buscell, Thursday, November 04, 2010
Updated: Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Quality Commons, a new partnership of organizations, professionals and scholars dedicated to improving health care in America, has received a federal designation that will pave the way for innovative complexity-informed projects and research on delivering the best and most cost-effective care. Plexus Institute is one of the partners.

The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the lead government agency charged with improving quality, safety, efficiency and effectiveness of health care for all Americans, has chosen The Quality Commons (TQC) to be one of 17 national health care partnerships that will have the capacity to explore multiple aspects of how care and access to care can be enhanced at the same time cost is contained. An unusual aspect of the TQC initiative is that the multi-disciplinary backgrounds and prior experience of its members will allow the rigorous application of complexity science principals in planning and analyzing research that takes place in clinical settings.

The TQC won a nation-wide competition for the AHRQ designation that makes it part of the Accelerating Change and Transformation in Organizations and Networks (ACTION II) program. As an ACTION II network, The Quality Commons members have made following commitment:

We will improve health of Americans by using our collective wisdom,

relationships, diverse capabilities and a complexity science framework

to solve intractable health care challenges and transform patient care.

TQC, formed in March, includes healthcare organizations with a wide range of medical specialties as well as scholars with expertise in complexity science, mathematics, statistics, education, nursing, organizations and management, medical research, psychology, social networking and communications. The members pledged to use their combined skills and experience to solve intractable problems in healthcare and provide knowledge on how evidence-based improvements can be widely incorporated into routine care. The members chose an addendum to its name that highlights the intent to create fresh a vision and achievable goals: "Changing Conversations in Health Care."

Past awards to ACTION networks supported pilot programs and research to improve ambulatory care, care of patients with chronic illnesses, long term care, and the effectiveness of Hepatitis B immunization programs, as well as explorations of financial issues in health delivery systems.

ACTION II grants awarded this year will focus on promoting the development, implementation and dissemination of evidence-based improvements in health care. Awardees are assigned to try to achieve one or more of the following objectives in research that can take place over five years.

  • to discover the potential success of a previously untested innovation
  • to implement in a new setting interventions that have worked elsewhere
  • to spread proven innovations or delivery systems
  • to increase knowledge about factors that help or hinder sustainability of innovations.

Several TQC members have previously collaborated in a successful initiative to use complexity science-informed behavior change processes that dramatically reduced the incidence of health care-associated Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) infections. That effort, initially funded by a grant from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, produced collaborative work that continued beyond the grant period and spread to healthcare organizations not covered in the initial grant. Further, the practices and methodologies that helped combat MRSA have been found helpful in addressing other quality issues. Experience in gathering and evaluating data from different locations is also expected to aid any new initiatives. The productivity of the MRSA work was among the inspirations for formation of The Quality Commons. Because of relationships and experiences built over many years of health care service and advocacy, members of this ACTION II network will be able to call on people in as many as 350 organizations across the U.S. if additional expertise or knowledge is needed for a project. Explorations have already begun on ways to foster healing relationships between patients and professional care givers.

The theoretical, practical and scholarly diversity of the participants promises that original insights as well as professional competence will guide the selection of issues and interpretation of the results.

Organizations in The Quality Commons are: Billings Clinic, Billings, MT; Albert Einstein Healthcare Network, Philadelphia, PA. Cabin Creek Health Systems, Dawes. WV; Maine Medical Center, Portland, ME; Park Nicollet Health Services, St. Louis Park, MN; University of Louisville Hospital, Louisville, KY; Plexus Institute, Bordentown, NJ, and the Center for Family, Community and Social Justice, Princeton, NJ.

Individual collaborators are: Ruth Anderson, PhD, MSN, MA, Virginia Stone Professor of Nursing and senior fellow at the Center for Aging and Human Development, Duke University School of Nursing, Durham, NC; Lucia Dura, PhD candidate in rhetoric and writing, University of Texas, El Paso, TX; Ary L. Goldberger, MD, professor of medicine, Harvard University; director of the Margret and H.A. Rey Institute for Nonlinear Dynamics in Physiology and Medicine, Boston, MA; Larry Liebovitch, PhD, AM, dean of mathematics and natural sciences, Queens College of the City University of New York, Flushing, NY; Keith McCandless, MA, Co-founder of the Social Intervention Group, Seattle, WA; Arvind Singhal, PhD, professor of communications and director of research and outreach, University of Texas, El Paso, TX; and Bruce West, PhD, MA, chief scientist for mathematical and information science, U.S. Army Research Office, Research Triangle Park, NC.

For further information on The Quality Commons and its work, contact Curt Lindberg at Plexus Institute.

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