Health care leaders = hope for the future

Third annual QI Institute

Sixteen global health fellows and project representatives from Africa and eastern Asia developed plans to reduce unwanted pregnancies, improve health care and save lives during a weeklong workshop sponsored by the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The third annual Quality Improvement (QI) Institute brought an international group of fellows and project directors to Madison in August to advance how they provide health care and foster leadership for change, said Lori DiPrete Brown, GHI associate director for Education and Engagement and director of the QI Institute. During the week, they shared their challenges with each other and worked with students, faculty, and staff from UW–Madison, UW Hospitals and Clinics and the UW Medical Foundation as they developed plans to tackle specific problems.

QI provides a framework for health practitioners to identify a process that needs changing, uncover the causes of poor quality, and implement ways to improve care and outcomes. With QI in place, health leaders maximize benefits to well-being without increasing risks, DiPrete Brown said. The process began with a single question: What do you want to change?

The fellows left with a variety of action plans to improve health outcomes.

  • In Ethiopia, for example, a group will use room heaters and regular monitoring to reduce hypothermia among newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit from 55 percent to 10 percent. The goal is to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and reduce deaths.
  • In Nepal, another plan will reduce post-surgical infection rates by a third in a Nepalese hospital that serves 1.9 million people. Posting best sanitation practices and monthly post-surgical infection rate reports are among the recommendations that will reduce patient loads and patient costs, while encouraging patients to undergo critical surgeries and improve their quality of life.
  • In Gambia, a team will improve life skills education for students aged 15 to 19, in an area where seven percent of girls are married by the time they’re 15 and 36 percent by 18. Training staff, setting standards, and establishing consistent class time are the top three priorities.

In working with health leaders from other countries, UW students recognized how much they have to contribute and to learn, DiPrete Brown said. The conversations created a context for information students learned in the classroom. Interacting with students in Madison also encourages international visitors to want to engage with UW–Madison students as partners and learners, DiPrete Brown said. The good reputation of UW–Madison students will lead to engaged learning opportunities and internships at the sites.

Hope for the future

Health care leaders present a great hope for the future, keynote speaker Dr. Sally Kraft, medical director of Quality, Safety and Innovation at UW Health, told the international group. Great leaders combine deep personal humility and intense resolve, she said.

“Be absolutely clear about your purpose and then unwavering in your commitment to that purpose. Live with humility, channeling ambitions to achieving the collective goal.”—Dr. Sally Kraft, on the role of a health care leader

“The best leaders make sure they have the right people on their teams, are brutally honest about reality and unwavering in their faith that their team can succeed,” Kraft said. “They understand what it means to be the best, understand the economics and ignite the passions of the people, she said. And they create a culture of discipline.

The Global Health Institute, supported by a combination of public and private funding, is dedicated to addressing the multi-layered causes of illness and health and discovering sustainable strategies to improve well-being. GHI fosters collaboration to expand the traditional, medical response to international health crises to include environmental, economic, political, and public health issues.

By Ann Grauvogl | Oct 7, 2013