Safety, Equity, and Improvement Science Take Center Stage at 28th Annual National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care

IHI President & CEO Derek Feeley at IHI’s National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care (Dec. 4-7, 2016) in Orlando tells the audience of 5,000 why it’s crucial to broaden the definition of patient safety to include the millions harmed by inequities in care. (Photo: Business Wire)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. & ORLANDO, Fla.--()--In his first National Forum keynote as President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Derek Feeley focused on a topic that has been central to the organization’s mission and work since its founding: patient safety and the necessity for all health care systems to remain focused on reducing harm. Feeley addressed nearly 5,000 health care professionals, health leaders, students, patient advocates, and community improvers in Orlando at the 28th Annual National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care. He argued for a more ambitious approach to patient safety, which would include broadening the safety lens to consider the millions of patients impacted by inequities in care, and by indignities in care.

Feeley remarked: “Thanks to years of hard work by doctors, nurses, leaders, and many, many improvers on the frontlines of care, we now know that certain types of harm can be eliminated. We must apply that same ambition and rigor to driving out all the harms patients suffer needlessly, including those resulting from the absence of equity and lack of respect. This requires not just focusing on what actions need to be avoided, but what needs to be done right.” Feeley added that culture change, continuous learning, and looking at safety as a system that links settings across the continuum of care are necessary to further progress. He also identified opportunities to better engage patients and families in ensuring that care is as safe as it can be.

A leader in health and health care improvement worldwide, IHI has convened the four-day event (December 4-7, 2016) to showcase multiple fronts where improvers are driving new approaches to achieve better care, better health, and lower cost for patients and populations. These strategies include working to reduce disparities and improve health equity; creating community partnerships that extend beyond the walls of the health care system to address more upstream determinants of health; and tapping into the talents and knowledge of students and patients to co-create new models of care.

While the recent US presidential election and the future of the Affordable Care Act were very much on people’s minds, the National Forum continues to offer the improvement community a way to stay focused on transformations that need to occur no matter what. Feeley says having a common purpose matters.

“There’s no question that health reform at the national level is about to face some major challenges,” stated Feeley. “This reality makes IHI more determined than ever to work closely with our partners and colleagues to demonstrate the positive changes that are possible and to stay the course, especially during times of uncertainty. We have a particular responsibility to those who lack access to care or who experience inequity or social injustice. Together, we must make care better, populations healthier, and costs more affordable.”

Feeley shared the podium with Abraham Verghese, MD, a nationally bestselling author and a prominent voice in medicine with a uniquely humanistic view of the future of health care in his role as Senior Associate Chair, Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Verghese spoke about the importance of empathy in patient care. Additional speakers at this year’s Forum include NASA astronaut Captain Scott Kelly; IHI Senior Fellow and President Emeritus, Dr. Don Berwick; and a team of clinicians and leaders from Orlando Health, detailing stories and insights about mass trauma events and caring for injured patients, following the June 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

New approaches to system measurement

A number of Forum sessions this year spotlight measurement – a subject of high interest to attendees given the heavy burden faced by health care systems to collect, review, and report on hundreds of measures aligned with safety initiatives and payment programs that increasingly reward value and quality outcomes over volume or frequent utilization of care. Sessions such as “D29/E29: Applying Meaningful Measurement in Health and Health Care” aim to ease the measurement burden by offering guidance on which measures are truly necessary, which might be eliminated, and how to ensure that measures that matter are tracked, analyzed, and transparently used to improve care, not just to satisfy reporting.

To help address these changing dynamics, a recently published IHI White PaperWhole System Measures 2.0: A Compass for Health System Leaders – offers health care system leaders and boards a new set of 15 measures grouped together for the first time under the broad domains of health, experience of care, and per capita cost, or the IHI Triple Aim. The goal of WSM 2.0 is to help those at the helm better understand how to deliver better care to patients in conjunction with improving the health of the communities where they reside.

Improving quality and safety, addressing health inequities

In collaboration with like-minded organizations, communities, and individuals, IHI applies improvement methods and tools to reduce unjust, costly, and persistent inequities in health and health care. At this year’s Forum, health equity is a major theme headlining some 15 sessions – including ones on reducing unconscious bias in decision making, advancing health care for the transgender community, and addressing patients’ social needs as a standard part of quality care.

Over the course of the Forum, attendees will hear about a wide range of outstanding work being done to improve the quality and safety of health care in the US and abroad, with more than 100 sessions covering topics such as identifying ethical issues in quality improvement, understanding top health IT safety hazards, making a better resident experience, and engaging harmed patients for healing and safety. More than 600 improvement storyboards will also be on display, including a significant number that reflect improvement initiatives launched by students in the health professions from all over the world who are active in IHI’s Open School.

About the Institute for Healthcare Improvement

IHI is a leader in health and health care improvement worldwide. For more than 25 years, we have partnered with visionaries, leaders, and front-line practitioners around the globe to spark bold, inventive ways to improve the health of individuals and populations. Recognized as an innovator, convener, trustworthy partner, and driver of results, we are the first place to turn for expertise, help, and encouragement for anyone, anywhere who wants to change health and health care profoundly for the better. To advance our mission, IHI’s work is focused in five key areas: Improvement Capability; Person- and Family-Centered Care; Patient Safety; Quality, Cost, and Value; and Triple Aim for Populations. Learn more at


CXO Communication
Sandy George, 617-413-6126

Release Summary

IHI convenes 5,000 health care professionals, health leaders, students, patient advocates, and community improvers for the 28th Annual National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care (Dec. 4-7).


CXO Communication
Sandy George, 617-413-6126