Q&A with Q-Centrix is an ongoing blog series spotlighting key experts from our team and the extensive experience they bring to our quality community.

Sepsis is widely considered a global public health burden. To help address the need for improved sepsis response in U.S. hospitals, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) adopted a bundle of sepsis interventions as a Core Measure in 2015. In this installment of Q&A with Q-Centrix, we ask Tami Ward, RN, MSN, Q-Centrix Clinical Training Manager and a sepsis reporting expert, about her experience in sepsis care quality and the challenges of measures compliance.

First, why is sepsis awareness so critical right now?
Overall, we have a real opportunity to save lives and preserve quality of life through improved sepsis response and prevention. Sepsis is the most common cause of in-hospital deaths in the U.S., ahead of both heart attack and stroke, and costs the country more than $24 billion annually. Each year, at least 1.7 million adults in America develop sepsis and 270,000 die from it. Of those who survive, many suffer life-long debilitation. All the while, data is starting to show fulfilling sepsis quality requirements is related to better outcomes, including decreases in organ failure, hospital mortality, and lengths of stay. So, mitigating the tremendous burden of sepsis is possible.

Overall, we have a real opportunity to save lives and preserve quality of life through improved sepsis response and prevention.

Are we as a community making a difference in addressing sepsis?
I think CMS requiring the sepsis bundle as part of its quality measures has really increased awareness of sepsis care best practices and how critical it is they be followed. Some states also require this data be gathered and measured for improvement initiatives. Plus, a few recent studies show a decrease in sepsis mortality rates. While we have more work to do to reverse the trend of new sepsis cases, these findings suggest our efforts are helping to save more lives, which is certainly a positive outcome.

What can a hospital expect from partnering with Q-Centrix on sepsis?
Having seen the challenges from the hospital’s perspective firsthand, I would say a distinct advantage of partnering with Q-Centrix is freeing staff from data collection so they can focus on improvement. This is true of most our solutions, not just sepsis. When I was working in the hospital, our partnership with Q-Centrix allowed our staff to work directly and concurrently with our clinicians to prevent errors and improve quality compliance. Because the Q-Centrix quality information specialists are so skilled, they can abstract thousands of patient charts per month. Plus, they continually validate the data and receive regular updates on reporting specifications. On top of that, the Q-Centrix team operates like an extension of the hospital’s quality department. We take pride in the work we do, and success is something we share with our partners.

We take pride in the work we do, and success is something we share with our partners.

Can you tell us about your previous experience and how it relates to your current role?
To start, I am sincerely empathetic to the challenges our partners face in improving their performance because I have been there myself. Prior to arriving at Q-Centrix, I served as Director of Quality at Santa Rosa Medical Center in Milton, Florida. My responsibilities included management and abstraction for cardiovascular data registries and Core Measures reporting. One of my biggest achievements was improving our Core Measures compliance from the bottom to the top of the organization in a remarkably short period of time. We became the highest performing site among the sites owned by our hospital’s parent company with zero opportunities for improvement over several consecutive years. Instituting needed protocols along with concurrent review of care were instrumental to these achievements.

Now I get to bring this experience, plus what I gained instructing nursing for four years, to my role at Q-Centrix. Today, I develop education for both our partner hospitals and our internal teams. These trainings and materials range from specifications updates for the measures we abstract to webinars on complex reporting, such as for sepsis.

How did you find your way to Q-Centrix?
It was really a combination of factors. After eight years directing quality at Santa Rosa, I simply needed a change in my routine. Our system was using Q-Centrix for Core Measures abstraction and then a former co-worker started working for the company. That made me take a closer look at the Q-Centrix mission and approach. I liked what I saw, so I made the leap. That was in August 2013 and it was one of my best decisions! Now I get to be part of a team that brings together the most skilled experts from across the country to focus on the common goal of helping hospitals achieve high-quality patient care.

Now I get to be part of a team that brings together the most skilled experts from across the country to focus on the common goal of helping hospitals achieve high-quality patient care.

More information on sepsis specification updates and the burden of sepsis on health care: