Massachusetts Healthcare Safety and Quality Consortium sets course at first meeting

Maryanne Bombaugh, M.D.
President of the Massachusetts Medical Society

Kim Hollon
Chair, Clinical Issues Advisory Council,
MA Health and Hospital Association

Greg DeConcillis, PA-C
President, Massachusetts Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers

The Massachusetts Healthcare Safety and Quality Consortium, a unique public-private effort to boost patient safety, held its first meeting in Boston last week to take first steps toward developing a strategic framework for accelerating the improvement of patient safety in all care settings across the state.

The Consortium’s 20+ members represent a cross section of interests, knowledge and influence, including hospital and provider associations, payers, malpractice insurers, government agencies, and patient safety research and advocacy organizations. The new group is a first-in-the-nation effort to develop a strategic action plan to prioritize and coordinate patient safety work statewide.

“Members of the Massachusetts health care community have been behind much of the progress that's been achieved over the past 25 years to recognize and understand risks to safety and how they can be prevented from causing harm,” says Barbara Fain, Executive Director of the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety, which convened and administers the Consortium. “The broad cross-section of organizations that have joined forces through this Consortium positions us to accelerate the movement of this knowledge into practice with the goal of dramatically improving safety outcomes in all care settings."

A ‘roadmap’ for patient safety

Developing a strategic framework or “roadmap” is the Consortium’s first task. Early work on the road map anticipates four cross-cutting and interdependent areas of focus:

  • Culture and leadership
  • Learning health systems
  • Support for patients, clinicians and staff
  • Transparency

Consortium members will assess current conditions and develop goals for each area, taking care to include all interested parties, recent research, and existing initiatives as they build out practical action plans to markedly improve patient safety.

Massachusetts is in a great position to create a model for accelerating safety improvement in our health care system.

Barbara Fain, Executive Director, Betsy Lehman Center

The Consortium brings together a broad range of specialties and care settings, including home care, ambulatory surgical centers, geriatrics, psychiatry and more. Michael Krupa, Ed.D., CEO and Founder of TaraVista Behavioral Health Center and representing the Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems, anticipates that the wide range of perspectives members bring to the four areas of focus will enhance what the Consortium is able to accomplish. The patient voice will also be represented in the Consortium’s work.

Paula Griswold, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors, would like to see the Consortium take improvement to the next level by helping clinicians and caregivers incorporate patient safety into all of their work continuously, not just on a project-by-project basis. Griswold adds, “We want to help people involve staff members and change systems, processes and the culture so that everyone is moving toward better patient safety all the time.”

Members also discussed the differences and interdependencies of health care safety and quality, with Sue Gullo, R.N., Director of Implementation at Aridadne Labs; Yvonne Cheung, M.D., Chief Quality Officer at Mt. Auburn Hospital; Maryanne Bombaugh, M.D., President of the Massachusetts Medical Society; and others contributing ideas. Kim Hollon, President and CEO of Signature Healthcare and representing the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, summed up the discussion saying, “Quality by itself will never get us to safety, and safety alone will not improve processes.”

Dr. Bombaugh also acknowledged the gains made to date on patient safety while looking ahead to further progress:

"The advances we’ve made in Massachusetts in the areas of patient safety and quality of care are commendable and a credit to the many dedicated members in our extended health care communities, but we know there is always room for improvement."

The Consortium will meet monthly through the rest of this year and into 2020 and is responsible for setting goals, prioritizing actions, planning work groups and overseeing their progress. Fain says the challenge ahead is to create and service pipelines to connect existing projects and areas of expertise, boosting resources already in place with new capability and energy.

The Massachusetts Healthcare Safety and Quality Consortium was formed in response to new research from the Betsy Lehman Center that found nearly 62,000 incidents of harm and more than $617 million of excess cost in Massachusetts in a single year due to medical error.


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