The quality revolution  pg. 2

The collaborative officially got off the ground in late 2008. Peter Grubb, M.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt and the initiative’s medical director, said the goal for TIPQC is simple. Take the energy and initiative exhibited by people like Saunders, use it to devise evidence-based practices that can improve care, and then selflessly share with everyone.

"The air transportation industry adopted a non-competitive approach to flight safety some time ago,” Grubb explains. “Not sharing to gain a competitive advantage has become unthinkable. This ideal resonates with many stakeholders across the healthcare spectrum, and organizations like TIPQC provide a previously missing venue to share data and experience about patient safety and quality."

Saunders says it’s about time. “We have been good at sharing results of research for some time, but we have not been good at sharing quality improvement information. Maybe the lack of sharing was competition or fear based,” she says. 

After only one year of operation, TIPQC has more than 1,000 individual members, including nurses and physicians from groups representing all 27 NICUs in Tennessee, plus a growing number of Obstetrics/Gynecology practices.

Why reinvent the wheel

And it’s not just turning away from business-type competition. Within TIPQC, there is a palpable lack of credit-taking as well. Grubb and Aschner acknowledge Vanderbilt was instrumental in the launch of the collaborative model, but emphasize that TIPQC members are absolute equals in sharing insights, leadership and bright ideas. 

 
Judy Aschner, M.D.
Photo by Daniel Dubois

The East Tennessee group, for example, adapted a successful program promoted by the California Perinatal Quality Care Commission to prevent the spread of infectious agents through central lines. “Why re-invent the wheel?” asks Saunders.

Saunders boiled down the California approach and created a simplified toolkit. Earlier this year, 12 other NICUs began their own projects using East Tennessee Children’s toolkit and guidance. Their goal: to reduce central line infection rates in NICUs by 50 percent within the first year. 

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