Spotlight on ATS Committees: Quality Improvement Committee
Jeremy Kahn, MD, MSC, chair of the ATS Quality Improvement Committee, talks about what he and his fellow members are doing to advance the Society’s mission of improving the quality of life of patients with lung diseases, critical illnesses and sleep disorders.
Q. What is the genesis of your committee? When was it established? And what is its charge?
A. The Quality Improvement Committee evolved out of a taskforce designed to evaluate ways in which the ATS could better engage the national quality improvement (QI) movement. One of the taskforce recommendations was to establish a standing committee to coordinate the Society’s QI activities. As a result of that recommendation, the Board of Directors formed the committee in 2009. Our charge is to act as a resource for the ATS regarding quality measurement and quality improvement pertaining to pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. In that role, we issue comments on behalf of the ATS on new quality measures related to our community, help advance the profile of QI at the International Conference and other educational activities, and direct the Society’s efforts to more broadly participate in national QI programs.
Q. Would you say your committee’s focus has changed in the last several years?
A. We have become more proactive rather than just reactive. It is important that the ATS help guide the national quality agenda by issuing public comments on proposed quality measures relating to lung health. However, ATS members need more from their society. Our recent efforts have centered around developing new quality measures and new continuing medical education (CME) products designed to facilitate QI at the local level. Our hope is that the ATS will become a national leader in the field of quality improvement, not only reacting to existing programs, but also developing new ones.
Q. What would you count as your major accomplishments to date?
A. In conjunction with the Assembly on Behavioral Science, we hosted a postgraduate course on quality improvement at the 2010 International Conference, helping to train the next generation of QI activists. We also worked with the Education Committee to draft two new quality measures related to the use of therapeutic hypothermia in post-cardiac arrest patients. These measures are part of a new Web-based CME program developed by the Education Committee to help hospitals better implement therapeutic hypothermia. These measures can be used by hospitals to benchmark their success in implementing therapeutic hypothermia, and are the first quality measures ever drafted by the Society.
Q. As an expert in healthcare policy, management and delivery, how is the perspective you bring to the table unique?
A. As both a clinician and a health services researcher, I have experience throughout the quality improvement spectrum. I’ve been lucky enough to help advance the field of quality through outcomes research, and I also have to think about quality at the individual patient level whenever I’m working in the ICU. I think these dual perspectives give me extra insight about how to make the Society’s quality improvement activities work best for members.
Q. Is the make-up of your committee representative of the Society’s membership at large or does it represent a “subset” of ATS members?
A. Our committee primarily comprises members with an interest in quality improvement and outcomes research. Many of our members have direct experience with local, regional and national quality improvement initiatives. This makes them somewhat different from the members at large. However, we have also taken care to reach out to more practicing clinicians to gain the benefit of their experience with quality improvement within their practices.
Q. What other projects are in the works?
A. We want to establish a formal process by which the Society develops new quality measures based on ATS clinical practice guidelines. The ATS has adopted GRADE as its guideline development method. GRADE is unique in its ability to help prioritize recommendations, making GRADE-based guidelines particularly ripe for measure development. To achieve this goal, we are working with the Documents Development and Implementation Committee to create a mechanism by which new quality measures are developed directly alongside guidelines. We are also thinking ahead to broader quality improvement initiatives that link our guidelines to clinical registries and education activities.
Q. Do you see many opportunities for collaboration with other ATS committees?
A. The Education and International Conference Committees will both be instrumental in implementing the Society’s broader quality improvement vision. Ultimately, we hope to integrate all these different programs—members can learn about new guidelines at the International Conference, obtain educational materials to help implement the guidelines from the Web site, and then track their implementation success using disease registries. Although this process is still a few years off, these ATS committees are laying the important groundwork now.
Meet the Members of the ATS Quality Improvement Committee
Jeremy M. Kahn, MD, MSc (chair)
Laura M. Cecere, MD
Colin R. Cooke, MD
Gary Ewart, MA (staff)
Carolyn M. Fruci, MD, PhD
Christine S. Fukui, MD (CCR representative)
John E. Heffner, MD
David Hiestand, MD
Nicholas S. Hill, MD (non-voting member)
Robert C. Hyzy, MD
Monica Kraft, MD (non-voting member)
Adrienne L. Prestridge, MD
Damon C. Scales, MD, PhD
Larry A. Sonna, MD, PhD
Dean E. Schraufnagel, MD (ex-officio and non-voting member)