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In the Community

January 13, 2011

Kaiser Permanente and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement: A Shared Investment in the Safety Net

By Jennifer Burns-Pope and William Jahmal Miller, Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit

Institute for Healthcare

The future of health care delivery is looking brighter in our communities, as Kaiser Permanente has granted its 1,000th Institute for Healthcare Improvement Community Benefit Scholarship, made possible by an endowment established in partnership with the IHI in 2004. As a result of this partnership, hundreds of our safety-net partners have received scholarships for continuing education and quality-improvement training opportunities offered by the IHI, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of health care.

This milestone achievement was recognized in December during the 22nd annual IHI National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care in Orlando, Fla. Kaiser Permanente was a leading sponsor for this year’s Forum, which is an important gathering place for domestic and international health care leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders committed to providing safe, efficient and effective patient care. Over 6,000 people attended the Forum, while thousands more watched via satellite broadcast.

Fulfilling Our Commitment to the Safety Net

Louise Liang, MD, Kaiser Permanente’s former senior vice president of Quality and Clinical Systems, and past IHI board chair, was instrumental in implementing the endowment’s scholarship program. “When we had the opportunity to establish this scholarship fund, my vision was that it was a way to offer needed help to safety-net organizations to achieve the highest levels of quality and service,” said Dr. Liang. “The significant improvements the scholars have achieved at their organizations with the IHI scholarships, and the gratitude from the scholars for our help have far surpassed my expectations. It has been so gratifying to think of the ripple effect we have generated over time through this endowment.”

Kaiser Permanente supports safety-net partnerships by sharing financial, technical and clinical resources. Scholarships granted from the Kaiser Permanente-IHI endowment have created access to numerous IHI programs over the past five years. Therefore, Kaiser Permanente’s engagement and investments in the Forum are two practical ways that the organization honors its unwavering commitment to strengthening the network of community health centers, public hospitals and local health departments dedicated to improving the health for millions of underserved and uninsured people.

Alide L. Chase, MS, Kaiser Permanente’s senior vice president of Quality and Service, recalls meeting at the Forum two years ago a young man from a safety-net organization in the Indian tribal system whose excitement and positive energy were contagious. “I remember thinking that I would never know all of the changes he would enact as a result of being at the conference, but I was convinced that he would make his mark and improve his care delivery system. I was proud of our organization for having a hand in all of this.”

A Forum for Change

Several Kaiser Permanente clinicians, leaders and Kaiser Permanente-IHI scholars contributed to the Forum as faculty, presenters, keynote speakers and moderators. To celebrate the 1,000th scholarship milestone, Kaiser Permanente’s National Community Benefit Program hosted a safety-net scholar panel titled, “Innovation in Care Delivery to Achieve Equity.” The panel celebrated the clinical excellence of Kaiser Permanente’s safety-net scholars, and provided an opportunity to share best practices.

“The IHI Forum provides a meaningful opportunity for Kaiser Permanente’s National Community Benefit program to invest in our safety-net partnerships,” said Winston F. Wong, MD, MS, medical director, Community Benefit. “The Forum allows for shared knowledge between our safety-net partners and Kaiser Permanente’s providers that allows us to develop new models of care that improve the health for our most vulnerable populations.”

Hilary Dryden, MSPH received a Kaiser Permanente-IHI scholarship in 2008. As clinical quality manager for Clinica Campesina Family Health Services in Lafayette, Colo., Dryden enrolled in IHI’s Primary Care Practice Coach Program, which is designed to implement improvement initiatives for clinics with limited resources.

“I am fortunate to work for a community-based clinic that prioritizes and supports quality improvement,” says Dryden. “IHI offers various evidence-based training opportunities that provide tools that are easy to implement. The value on primary care is an added benefit. I am grateful for the opportunity to receive this valuable training and encourage others to explore IHI’s programs as well.”

Chester J. Kunnappilly, MD, chief medical officer at the San Mateo, Calif. Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente-IHI scholar agrees. During the panel discussion, Dr. Kunnappilly highlighted recent successes in improving access, quality and care at his facility using IHI tools. “Kaiser Permanente has provided us with the opportunity to learn the skills and innovative approaches that are necessary to be at the forefront of medicine, and has allowed us to provide our patients with the highest level of quality and service. These lessons will be critical if the safety net is to thrive in the environment of health care reform.”