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.

In this special Health Care Quality Week and International Infection Prevention Week (Oct. 18-24, 2020) installment, we explore what a culture of quality looks like amid fundamental shifts in health care while learning more about the diverse professional background of Sara Bienvenu, RN, MSN, CIC, Q‑Centrix Clinical Consultant for Advisory Solutions.

 

Hospitals are dealing with unprecedented challenges to providing consistent, high-quality care. How does your current role put you in a position to help them in these difficult times?
I currently serve as Clinical Consultant for Advisory Solutions. Based on our experience working with hundreds of hospitals of all sizes, it is evident that despite substantial time and resources collecting data, many health systems struggle with aligning resources and culture behind quality improvement. In response, we created Q-Centrix Advisory Solutions to fill knowledge and resource gaps to help hospitals more efficiently and consistently deliver high-quality care across the entire organization. This suite of solutions offers a comprehensive, customizable portfolio of technology, best practices, and expert support. Given Advisory Solutions’ transformative aims, the diversity of my professional background is integral to my current role.

Most health care leaders agree it is imperative to provide the highest-quality of care at the best value while ensuring the best-possible patient experience. This is most easily accomplished amid a strong culture of quality.

 

Can you tell us more about your diverse experience?
My time in hospital and health care administration settings afforded me a comprehensive understanding of the planning, education, communication, and actions needed to improve processes and truly build a culture of quality.

A little about my background: I have been a registered nurse for more than 25 years. In that time, I worked in direct patient care, regulatory compliance, infection prevention, and research. I developed and implemented a program designed to ensure physician compliance with federal, state and internal billing regulations in physicians’ services at Tulane University Medical Group in New Orleans. Later, I shifted to infection prevention (IP) and worked at both the facility and corporate levels. This included serving as a member of an emergency response team to the 2009-10 H1N1 pandemic.

As a corporate infection prevention manager, I developed and led the training for standardized infection prevention workflow within IP software implemented within 168 acute care hospitals in HCA Healthcare’s system.

Not to mention, my experience as a researcher taught me how to ask the right questions and find the best answers, which is key to uncovering the necessary information to make good decisions.

A culture of quality exists when quality is embedded within and throughout an organization, and when staff are mutually invested in the quality of their work and share a sense of ‘we are all in this together.’

 

You mentioned building a culture of quality—why is that important?
Most health care leaders agree it is imperative to provide the highest-quality of care at the best value while ensuring the best-possible patient experience. This is most easily accomplished amid a strong culture of quality.

 

Can you expand on what a culture of quality looks like and how it is achieved?
A culture of quality exists when quality is embedded within and throughout an organization, and when staff are mutually invested in the quality of their work and share a sense of ‘we are all in this together.’ Our experience is that the organizations with the strongest cultures of quality have the following in common: defined quality priorities, an elevated quality dialogue, and centralized quality governance.

Having defined quality priorities helps ensure everyone across the organization is working toward a common set of goals. Being able to track and measure performance and translate that data into actions is critical to achieving constant improvement.

Leaders that elevate quality dialogue help to ensure that everyone within the organization has a voice in the quality discussion. Executive walkarounds are an effective way to visibly demonstrate that patient safety and high-quality care are a priority while providing front line staff an opportunity to directly communicate quality concerns and success stories to top leadership. Sharing quality outcomes at the departmental, division, facility, and system levels brings a sense of ownership across the organization as teams strategize and focus on actions to improve.

Centralized governance is critical to aligning and operationalizing quality priorities across the organization. Centralized does not mean isolated, but rather a governance comprised of leadership from each part of the organization, often grouped at the departmental or service line level. This approach brings various disciplines together in a collaborative manner.

The ability to adapt is as critical now as ever before. Achieving the best possible outcomes will require shifts in patient care and the health care workforce.

 

What additional advice do you have for hospitals in managing quality in an environment changed by a pandemic, a transition to value-based care, and other fundamental shifts?
The ability to adapt is as critical now as ever before. Achieving the best possible outcomes will require shifts in patient care and the health care workforce. The expanded use of telemedicine, which received a tremendous “jump start” in the response to the pandemic, can continue to be of value to patients and providers, including patient monitoring post discharge.

During COVID-19 surges throughout the country, many organizations established remote arrangements for key health care staff not involved in direct patient care. These can result in improved efficiencies and productivity. For example, remote abstraction of patient charts for clinical data registry submission, Core Measures reporting, and infection surveillance may be a first step towards centralizing quality data management.

 

How did you find your way to Q-Centrix?
I learned about Q-Centrix while working in IP. Q-Centrix solutions were presented as an option to assist our hospitals with health care-associated infection surveillance. As part of the team vetting our options, I got to know Q‑Centrix from the outside-in and was impressed by its systematic workflow and commitment to high data integrity. I also saw a chance to continue working in quality with the potential to help hospitals and health systems across the country. I eventually joined Q-Centrix in 2018.

Watch Sara’s interview on infection prevention insights and updates amid the pandemic: