The Improvement Quotient

A Blog by NICHQ

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  • Quality Improvement Initiative Brings National Changes to Breastfeeding Support

    Posted July 20, 2017 by NICHQ

    The NICHQ-led Best Fed Beginnings initiative has made it possible for 218,000 more babies to be born in Baby-Friendly hospitals every year.

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  • Virginia Aims for a Zero

    Posted July 12, 2017 by Sonya Spillmann, RN

    When a 2014 report showed one child almost every three days in Virginia died related to a preventable unsafe sleep environment, leaders at the Virginia Department of Health knew it was time to take action.

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  • Success in Change Management: The Flexibility Factor

    Posted July 06, 2017 by Elizabeth Barker

    To create innovative change in healthcare, quality improvement teams and learning collaboratives must be rigorous in every step of their efforts. Factors like meticulous testing and robust data collection are essential for successful change; It is also important to match that rigor with a certain flexibility.

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  • Family Partners Help Create Sustainable Change

    Posted June 29, 2017 by Wendy Loveland

    Parents of children with special health needs become experts on their children’s condition in a way that doctors and administrators cannot. Their countless hours on the front line, navigating the healthcare system and other community resources, gives them invaluable insight into how these systems work (and do not work) for them. That is why NICHQ emphasizes the value of utilizing the parent/family perspectives in change efforts.

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  • Mapping State Medicaid Efforts to Improve Birth Outcomes

    Posted June 27, 2017 by NICHQ

    New maps show state Medicaid quality metrics and performance-based incentives for women’s health services to improve birth outcomes.

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  • Setting the Stage for Sustainability in Quality Improvement Projects

    Posted June 21, 2017 by Elizabeth Barker

    In all types of quality improvement efforts, sustainability is a vital consideration that often goes overlooked until the project’s final stages. With the right balance of foresight and strategy, however, team leaders can plan for sustainability as a project gets underway.

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  • Collaborative Approach Helps Minnesota Accelerate Improvement

    Posted June 14, 2017 by Sonya Spillmann, RN

    Minnesota’s Department of Health began working towards increasing the number of full term births in 2015 by focusing efforts to increase awareness and the use of 17-alpha hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17P) in women who have had previous spontaneous singleton preterm births.

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  • Results of NICHQ Breastfeeding Initiative Featured in Pediatrics Journal

    Posted June 07, 2017 by Cindy Hutter

    Pediatrics journal article features NICHQ initiative were 80% of hospitals achieved Baby-Friendly status.

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  • NYS Builds Unlikely Partnerships to Promote Safe Infant Sleep

    Posted May 31, 2017 by Elizabeth Barker

    Because safe sleep is such a complex issue that requires continuous communication and education for families, the New York State Department of Health uses a multifaceted approach with its Safe Sleep Project.

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  • How to Avoid the Most Common Pitfalls in Planning PDSA Cycles

    Posted May 24, 2017 by NICHQ

    After nearly 20 years of guiding teams in constructing PDSA cycles we’ve identified three common pitfalls. The good news is you can easily avoid them.

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  • The Baby Box: An Opportunity, Not a Magic Bullet

    Posted May 17, 2017 by Sabrina Selk, ScD

    While the baby box can be seen as an innovative product and a promising practice, it does not meet the requirements of an evidence-based initiative.

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  • Family Engagement: Identifying the Right Parent Partners for Improvement Work

    Posted May 11, 2017 by Josh Grant

    Effective family engagement begins with finding parents who are engaged in improving health outcomes for everyone.

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  • What Health Equity Efforts Can Learn from Immunization Initiatives

    Posted May 09, 2017 by Josh Grant

    Efforts to improve immunizations show how health disparities can be closed.

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  • Strategies for How to Align CoIIN and Public Health Accreditation Activities

    Posted May 03, 2017 by Josh Grant

    NASHP and NICHQ release case studies on Delaware and Georgia’s uses of Medicaid policy to help reduce costly unplanned births.

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  • What Quality Improvement Means to Healthcare and Public Health

    Posted April 20, 2017 by Connie Cowley, DNP, RN, CPHQ, NE-BC

    Quality is interpreted differently by healthcare and public health.

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  • 3 Keys for Engaging Extended Partners

    Posted April 13, 2017 by Josh Grant

    Gwen Webber-McLeod shares some tips on identifying with and approaching strategic partners.

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  • Delaware and Georgia Use Innovative Strategies to Promote Women’s Health in Medicaid

    Posted April 11, 2017 by Liz McCaman

    NASHP and NICHQ release case studies on Delaware and Georgia’s uses of Medicaid policy to help reduce costly unplanned births.

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  • Small New York Hospital and WIC Collaborate on Big Changes

    Posted April 06, 2017 by Sonya Spillman, RN

    Collaboration between WIC and a hospital has had a big impact on breastfeeding support for many new moms.

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  • How to Ace Onboarding New Team Members to a QI Project

    Posted April 04, 2017 by Josh Grant

    A thorough onboarding process can empower new team members to be strong contributors.

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  • Leadership Engagement Bootcamp: Exercise 4: Convene a Diverse Team

    Posted March 30, 2017 by Josh Grant

    A well-rounded team makes a word of difference for QI.

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  • Mother Partners: Promoting Patient-Centered Policies to Support Breastfeeding

    Posted March 28, 2017 by Sarah Cohen

    Mothers aren't just benefiting from improved practices and policies, they're helping hospitals identify strategies to better serve their patients.

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  • Using Data Evaluation to Support Improvements in Epilepsy Care

    Posted March 23, 2017 by Josh Grant

    Data on epilepsy care systems may lead to the type of improvements necessary to create stronger support for patients.

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  • Early Childhood Development Requires Stronger Systems

    Posted March 21, 2017 by Lindsay Rosenfeld, ScD, ScM

    Better alignment between systems that support early childhood development can lead to improved outcomes for all children.

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  • Why Data Collection is a Necessary Part of Quality Improvement

    Posted March 14, 2017 by Josh Grant

    Data is a key part of quality improvement, and collecting it can make a huge difference in the results of an initiative.

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  • Extending Breastfeeding Support in the Community for New Families

    Posted March 09, 2017 by Josh Grant

    A Texas hospital and WIC agency have teamed up to ensure that breastfeeding support and education start before delivery and well after birth.

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  • How to Use In-Person and Remote Learning Resources to Support Collaboration

    Posted March 07, 2017 by Josh Grant

    Engaging in-person and remote audiences requires nuanced techniques when bolstering collaboration.

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  • Innovations and Inspirations for Improving Children's Health: March 2017

    Posted March 02, 2017 by Josh Grant

    New technology and intervention strategies look to make a real difference in children's health.

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  • Collaboration, QI Helping to Bring Better Breastfeeding Support to Hospitals

    Posted February 28, 2017 by Josh Grant

    Two articles spotlight NICHQ-led projects that are helping improve breastfeeding practices.

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  • How to Avoid Analysis Paralysis and Underplanning in PDSAs

    Posted February 23, 2017 by Josh Grant

    Planning is the first step for running successful PDSA cycles, making important to get right.

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  • Building Stronger Systems for Better Children’s Vision Care

    Posted February 16, 2017 by Liz Barker

    QI is a necessary tool for closing gap in pediatric vision care.

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  • Creating Smoke-Free Housing: Boston’s Example

    Posted February 14, 2017 by Wendy Loveland

    Boston is working to eliminate smoke from its housing to improve everyone's health.

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  • New Toolkit for Addressing Infant Mortality

    Posted February 09, 2017 by Josh Grant

    The infant mortality toolkit supports teams looking to improve infant health in their communities.

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  • The Inequities in American Oral Health

    Posted February 07, 2017 by Josh Grant

    Inequities in oral healthcare are leaving children in underserved communities at risk for worsening health conditions.

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  • Innovations and Inspirations for Improving Children's Health: February 2017

    Posted February 02, 2017 by Josh Grant

    Innovative programming is being used to further improve children's health.

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  • NICHQ Projects Highlighted in Research Journal

    Posted January 31, 2017 by Josh Grant

    Promising results have led to two NICHQ projects being featured in the Maternal and Child Health Journal.

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  • Leadership Engagement Bootcamp: Exercise 3: Using Evidence to Make Your Case

    Posted January 26, 2017 by Josh Grant

    When proposing a new quality improvement initiative to leaders to gain their support, you’ll need different kinds of evidence and data to support your case.

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  • A Roadmap for Improving Sickle Cell Care in Underserved Areas

    Posted January 24, 2017 by Josh Grant

    Sickle cell disease care is being improved for Indiana's children, and new strategies are helping support better transitions of care.

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  • Medicaid Funding Opportunities in Support of Perinatal Regionalization Systems

    Posted January 17, 2017 by Alexandra King

    This new issue brief delves into how perinatal regionalization improves the delivery of risk-appropriate care, and how Medicaid can help support regionalization efforts.

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  • The Photo of My Baby That Almost Killed Us

    Posted January 12, 2017 by Cindy Hutter

    Advertisements don't often show babies sleeping in safe position, and that affects what caregivers learn about putting children to bed.

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  • Why Improved Pre-Pregnancy Health is the Key for Reducing Birth Defects

    Posted January 10, 2017 by Josh Grant

    Pregnancy planning and women's health, regardless pregnancy intentions, can help reduce the risk of birth defects and improve health outcomes for moms and babies.

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  • Finding Breastfeeding Support: From Airports to Football Stadiums

    Posted January 04, 2017 by Sonya Spillmann, RN

    While there are statewide initiatives to improve breastfeeding support for new moms, community support is also key to their comfort and success. Hospitals and groups like Women, Infant and Children (WIC) foster that kind of support, and other organizations are starting to fill in gaps to ensure that moms have the resources they need to breastfeed or pump in public spaces.

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  • Bridging Hospital and Community for Improved Breastfeeding Rates

    Posted November 30, 2016 by Wendy Loveland

    To improve breastfeeding support and education, an El Paso hospital and a local WIC clinic began working together, and found that a continuous approach helps engage families.

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  • Race and the Inequity in Maternal and Infant Health

    Posted November 17, 2016 by Avery Desrosiers

    Racial disparities in health and healthcare access have a profound affect on infant health, especially when it comes to preterm births.

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  • Quality Improvement 101: The Fundamentals of Real Change

    Posted November 15, 2016 by Josh Grant

    Learn all about Quality Improvement 101, a digital course that teaches the fundamentals of change.

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  • Action Kit Gives Audiologists New Resources for Follow-Up Care

    Posted November 09, 2016 by Josh Grant

    A new action kit aims to support early hearing detection and intervention (EHDI) programs reduce loss to follow-up through quality improvement and innovative strategies.

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  • Why I Participate: TaLana Hughes, MPH

    Posted November 03, 2016 by TaLana Hughes, MPH

    TaLana Hughes, MPH, Executive Director of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of Illinois, shares why she participates in the Sickle Cell Disease Treatment Demonstration Program.

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  • Efforts to Reduce Infant Mortality Focus on Underserved Populations

    Posted November 01, 2016 by Josh Grant

    Part of the NICHQ and Maternal and Child Health Bureau-led Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN) involves state teams determining where there are opportunities to improve systems so they can better reach underserved women and infants. In our special Underserved Population Series, we’ve highlighted IM CoIIN teams that have made strides in reaching underserved populations across different strategic focus areas for addressing infant mortality. These inspiring stories show that change is possible, and that there are ways to reach every mother and every child. Although the healthcare system is far from perfect, new strategies can be implemented to extended it to people who can’t access the help they need.

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  • Innovations and Inspirations for Improving Children's Health: October 2016

    Posted October 27, 2016 by Josh Grant

    Across the United States, organizations and government agencies are creating new approaches to improve children’s health. Because we support innovation for helping children lead healthier lives, we’ve highlighted some of the most exciting initiatives we’ve seen in the last few weeks. Read on to learn how some groups are addressing critical health needs.

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  • 3 Resources for Preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

    Posted October 25, 2016 by Josh Grant

    Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the fourth leading cause of infant mortality in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During SIDS Awareness Month in October, healthcare systems, government agencies and public health organizations are reaching out to providers and parents to educate them on what they can do to better protect infants.

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  • The Gamification of Exercise for Children

    Posted October 20, 2016 by Josh Grant

    In 2014, the obesity rate for children and teenagers between ages 2 and 19 in the United States increased to 17.2 percent, up from 13.9 percent in 1999. While various organizations and agencies are working to help children lead healthy lifestyles, there has been another trend in recent years that has come into play: gamification.

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  • Breaking Barriers to Healthy Birth Spacing in Underserved Populations

    Posted October 18, 2016 by Elizabeth Barker

    For women who have recently given birth, waiting at least 18 months before becoming pregnant again is essential as it allows the body much-needed time to recover and heal. Longer intervals between pregnancies also mean better birth outcomes and healthier babies. While there is no consensus on optimal interpregnancy interval, research shows that short intervals of less than 18 months and intervals longer than 60 months are associated with poor health outcomes.

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  • Medicaid Incentives for Effective Contraceptive Use and Postpartum Care

    Posted October 11, 2016 by Carrie Hanlon

    Unplanned and complex births carry potentially avoidable health complications and costs to families and states. Broad healthcare payment and delivery reform is underway across the country to improve outcomes, enhance patient experience and reduce costs. Some states are capitalizing on these reforms to promote planned and healthy births by driving improvement in effective contraceptive use and postpartum follow up care. Their efforts create potential opportunities for cross-agency collaboration and integrate well with other initiatives, such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Maternal and Infant Health Initiative and the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN).

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  • Raising Awareness of the Impact of Early Childhood Trauma

    Posted October 06, 2016 by Bethany Applebaum; Cherri Pruitt

    Early childhood trauma – whether from unexpected acts of violence or entrenched, continuous influences such as chaotic home life or family violence – is pervasive and can have cumulative, life-altering impacts. The stress of childhood trauma releases hormones that physically damage a child’s developing brain. Children with toxic stress live most of their lives in flight or fight mode, making it difficult to learn in school and build healthy relationships.

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  • Healthy Start Celebrates 25 Years of Creating Community Leaders

    Posted October 04, 2016 by Rachael Ruffin

    For 25 years, the National Healthy Start Association (NHSA) has served as a leading voice in support of government policies and programs that serve pregnant women, babies, and families in vulnerable communities. NHSA works diligently to ensure optimal birth outcomes and elimination of disparities advocating for community-based services, such as outreach, home visitation, care coordination, health education, health and depression screening, and paternal engagement programs.

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  • Leadership Engagement Bootcamp: Exercise 2: Visualize and Align Aims

    Posted September 29, 2016 by Josh Grant

    Learning leaders’ styles is a great first step towards engaging them in quality improvement (QI) efforts. The next two steps -- establishing a vision and aligning aims with the organization -- are important both to securing leadership buy-in and to the work’s ultimate success. Undertaking these actions early on allows for more substantive conversations about QI plans and opportunities that can foster interest at every level of the organization.

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  • PATCH-ing up Communication Between Providers and Teenagers

    Posted September 27, 2016 by Josh Grant

    The Wisconsin Providers and Teens Communicating for Health (PATCH) program is helping to reduce teen pregnancy rates in Wisconsin by enhancing communication between teenagers and their healthcare providers. The PATCH program trains and employs Teen Educators who then educate medical professionals on how to communicate with younger patients, with a particular focus on sensitive subjects, including sexual and reproductive health.

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  • Missouri is Bringing Risk Appropriate Care to its Moms and Babies

    Posted September 20, 2016 by Josh Grant

    Missouri aims to move the state’s hospitals away from self-designation for levels of risk appropriate care to better support perinatal regionalization—the idea that a system exists to designate where babies are born or transferred according to the level of care they need at birth—and improve health outcomes for moms and babies.

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  • Community Health Workers Provide a Safety Net for Patients with Sickle Cell Disease

    Posted September 15, 2016 by Sonya Spillmann, RN

    Increasing the number of patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) who receive regular care from knowledgeable providers is one of the three main goals of the Sickle Cell Disease Treatment Demonstration Program (SCDTDP), for which NICHQ is the national coordinating center. But what happens to patients with SCD who have trouble initiating or remaining in treatment? Through the SCDTDP, community health workers (CHWs) are a critical layer of support for these at-risk patients.

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  • How Asking One Key Question Helps Moms and Healthcare Providers Prepare for Pregnancy

    Posted September 13, 2016 by Josh Grant

    A healthy pregnancy starts before conception, but almost half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. This increases the risk of poor outcomes for both moms and babies. Planning can help women better prepare themselves for pregnancy, and it all starts with a single question from their doctors: Would you like to become pregnant in the next year? The One Key Question® (OKQ) initiative from the Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health (OFRH) encourages healthcare providers to ask every woman this specific question because it changes the context of other health factors.

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  • Infographic – America’s Problem: Infant Mortality

    Posted September 07, 2016 by Josh Grant

    Although great strides have been made in recent years, infant mortality remains a problem in the United States. The infant mortality rate has declined – dropping 13 percent between 2005 and 2013 – while still leaving the U.S. far behind many industrialized nations.

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  • Innovations and Inspirations for Improving Children's Health: September 2016

    Posted September 01, 2016 by Josh Grant

    Across the United States, organizations and government agencies are creating new approaches to improve children’s health. Because we support innovation for helping children lead healthier lives, we’ve highlighted some of the most exciting initiatives we’ve seen in the last few weeks. Read on to learn how some groups are addressing critical health needs.

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  • Three Projects Make Strides Towards Improving Child Health Systems

    Posted July 28, 2016 by Josh Grant

    At the outset of every project, we determine how it will relate to our three areas of focus—bridging health and healthcare, improving systems of care, and increasing support for healthy beginnings. Recently, three new projects have touched on these foundations, progressing towards improvements in systems for children’s health and outcomes for families.

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  • Closing the Gaps in Safe Sleep Education in Underserved Populations

    Posted July 26, 2016 by Elizabeth Barker

    While the country’s rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has dropped by more than 50 percent over the past two decades, SIDS continues to claim the lives of about 1,500 U.S. infants each year. SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants and is highly correlated with unsafe sleep practices, which is why the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN) has made safe sleep practices one of its six focus areas. By helping to eliminate persistent but avoidable disparities in SIDS rates, addressing unsafe sleep practice with underserved populations can reduce infant mortality for all.

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  • Babies in Utero Experience Effects of National Opioid Addiction Epidemic

    Posted July 21, 2016 by Wendy Loveland

    Opioid abuse is at a crisis point in the U.S., and it’s affecting more and more babies in utero. Babies born to women who use opioids are cutoff from those drugs at birth, which puts the babies at risk for a cluster of neurological, gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms that are collectively referred to as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). Nationally, NAS has increased fivefold since 2000, and this rate, too, has become steeper in the past few years. In 2009, one infant was born with NAS per hour. By 2012, one baby was born with NAS every 25 minutes.

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  • Quality Improvement: A Necessary Addition to the Maternal and Child Health Tool Belt

    Posted July 19, 2016 by Avery Desrosiers

    MCH Practice Fellow Avery Desrosiers has been part of the IM CoIIN team during her time at NICHQ. Over the course of her work, she's learned about how quality improvement can affect maternal and child health, how encourages innovative changes within specific communities to improve health outcomes for vulnerable populations.

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  • How Can Men Be Engaged in Maternal and Child Health?

    Posted June 30, 2016 by Josh Grant

    The National Healthy Start Association's (NHSA) Where Dads Matter initiative helps engage men and dads in maternal and child health to help support health outcomes. NHSA President Kenn Harris recently spoke with us about Where Dads Matter, its impact and the role male caregivers play in MCH programs.

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  • 4 Benefits to Testing Before Implementing Changes

    Posted June 28, 2016 by Josh Grant

    Quality improvement means making long-term changes that can be adapted and sustained in different environments. Testing is one of the essential steps in optimizing a change idea so that it can improve a specific element within public health.

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  • How Sharing Data Can Help Cities and States Reduce Infant Mortality

    Posted June 23, 2016 by Josh Grant

    Data sharing is one of the most significant barriers between city and state health departments when it comes to reducing infant mortality. States and cities accumulate a great deal of data at various levels on birth outcomes and maternal care, but they don’t always make it readily available to each other.

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  • Innovations and Inspirations for Improving Children’s Health: June 2016

    Posted June 21, 2016 by Josh Grant

    Programs from healthcare providers, government agencies and other organizations help improve children's health by addressing new needs and closing gaps in care. This month, we've found innovative and inspirational examples touch on subjects like children's sleep during hospital stays and efforts to improve in-school care.

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  • NICHQ’s Sickle Cell Work Highlighted in Special Supplement to AJPM

    Posted June 16, 2016 by Cindy Hutter

    Two articles related to NICHQ’s portfolio of sickle cell projects are featured in a special sickle cell supplement of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine out today, in advance of World Sickle Cell Day June 19.

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  • Clinicians and Patients Work Together to Improve Preconception Health in the U.S.

    Posted June 14, 2016 by Sarah Verbiest, DrPH, MSW, MPH

    Fostering the creation of healthy families by choice, not chance, is not a new idea. Organizations and agencies are working to improve pregnancy planning, spacing and preventing unintended pregnancies. Given the high rates of unintended pregnancy in the U.S., action is needed from all stakeholders–consumers, health providers, policy makers–in proactively supporting this critical conversation.

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  • Leadership Engagement Bootcamp: Exercise 1: Understand Your Leader’s Style

    Posted June 09, 2016 by Josh Grant

    “Follow the Leader” isn’t always a game that should be played during quality improvement (QI) work. In fact, often, QI teams need to be proactive about engaging their leaders, creating a partnership to support change initiatives. To do that, leaders might have to be pushed out of their comfort zones.

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  • Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding Videos Showcase Strategies for Successful Implementation

    Posted June 07, 2016 by Cindy Hutter

    A new video series is showcasing how healthcare providers in Texas are successfully implementing the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, a set of evidence-based practices hospitals can follow to increase breastfeeding initiation and duration by new moms. Created by the Texas Department of State Health Services, this 10-video series features healthcare providers sharing their strategies for success on the pathway to improvement.

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  • Why Closing the Health Equity Divide Can’t Wait Any Longer

    Posted June 01, 2016 by Cindy Hutter

    With the projection that more than half of the nation’s children will be part of a minority race or ethnic group by 2020, the need to address health equity has never been stronger.Equity in healthcare is the idea that everyone has the same access to quality care, regardless of social, economic, demographic or geographical differences. This ideal is not a current reality in the U.S. healthcare system. There are many barriers hampering health equity and the overall health of America’s children.

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  • NYS Breastfeeding Collaborative Welcomes New Hospitals

    Posted May 26, 2016 by Josh Grant

    More mothers in New York will soon experience better improvements in hospital maternity care, as 21 more hospitals join the state’s Breastfeeding Quality Improvement in Hospitals Collaborative (BQIH). Cohort A saw 12 New York hospitals work together and use quality improvement (QI) methods to change their systems and practices to better support a mothers choice to breastfeedings. Cohort B will see 20 new hospitals participate in the collaborative, building off the momentum and learnings from their predecessors.

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  • Medicaid Strategies to Promote Increased Access to Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC)

    Posted May 24, 2016 by Tamara Kramer; Karen VanLandeghem, MPH

    Unplanned pregnancies can present a tremendous challenge for many women, healthcare payers and the community, and are associated with a number of negative health outcomes, such as delayed prenatal care and premature births. Efforts like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) recent guidance and the Collaborative Improvement & Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN) have improved maternal and infant health outcomes, while also highlighting the $10 billion cost burden Medicaid expends on unplanned births.

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  • Innovations and Inspirations for Improving Children’s Health: May 2016

    Posted May 19, 2016 by Josh Grant

    Across the United States, organizations and government agencies are creating new approaches to improve children’s health. Because we support innovation for helping children lead healthier lives, we’ve highlighted some of the most exciting initiatives we’ve seen in the last few weeks. Read on to learn how some groups are addressing critical health needs.

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  • Putting the Cross-Sector Gears in Motion: How 3 Best Babies Zones Are Moving Towards Cross-Sector Action to Reduce Disparities in Infant Mortality

    Posted May 17, 2016 by Monica Barr

    The Best Babies Zone (BBZ) Initiative has been working on the social determinants of health for four years. In 2012, BBZ was launched to address the social, economic and environmental factors that contribute to poor birth outcomes. With funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, three small pilot “zones” were launched in Cincinnati, OH, New Orleans, LA, and Oakland, CA. In these cities, a lead organization connects and convenes partners from across sectors, creating possibilities for innovative projects that address the root causes of infant mortality in that community.

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  • Boxing Out Unsafe Sleep Practices for Babies

    Posted May 10, 2016 by Josh Grant

    In the 1930s, Finland’s infant mortality rate reached 65 deaths per 1,000 live births, leading to the 1938 introduction of baby boxes—kits that include a mattress, bedding, diapers, a box that serves as a crib and other necessities. By 2015, that rate had dwindled to an estimated 2.52 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2014, there were 3,500 sudden unexpected infant deaths in the United States, 25 percent of which were caused by accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed. Learning from Finland’s success, organizations in the U.S. are beginning to offer their own baby boxes to new families.

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  • Rhode Island Targets Social Factors to Achieve Health Equity

    Posted May 05, 2016 by Rachel Kremen

    While a higher percentage of Rhode Islanders have health insurance compared to the U.S. average, achieving health equity has been a challenge for the state—especially for its infant mortality rate. Now, the Rhode Island Department of Health is targeting key social factors that impact infant mortality in minority groups, including education, income and stress. The Rhode Island Commission for Health Advocacy and Equity was created in 2011 to address the inequity, by bringing together state agencies to focus on the social determinants of health—typically defined as the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. Aligning the efforts of those inside and outside the state is also key.

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  • Medicaid Strategies to Promote Full-Term Births

    Posted May 03, 2016 by Tamara Kramer

    Reducing the rate of pre-term birth is a major priority for state health agencies and a growing concern for state Medicaid programs. Medicaid agencies provide coverage for over half of the nation’s births each year and pay for a higher rate of premature or low-birth weight babies than the private insurance market (10.4 percent versus 9.1 percent). Pre-term birth, a birth that occurs prior to 37 weeks of gestation, is the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States. Early delivery is associated with a host of long-term health issues for the infant, including sight and hearing loss, cerebral palsy and developmental and intellectual disabilities.

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  • Why I Participate: By Parent Partner Mercédez Cahue

    Posted March 31, 2016 by Mercédez Cahue

    Mercédez Cahue shares her breastfeeding experience and why she joined the Texas Ten Step Star Achiever Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative as a parent partner.

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  • Just Download It: Wyoming Discovers Novel Way to Help Pregnant Mothers

    Posted March 29, 2016 by Cindy Hutter

    Wyoming is improving its birth outcomes one downloader at a time. An interactive mobile app—Due Date Plus—that the state Medicaid office developed for pregnant women is redefining prenatal education and transforming how Medicaid meets the needs of its pregnant population.

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  • Focusing on Population-Level, Collaborative, Perinatal Outcomes Improvement

    Posted March 24, 2016 by Ed Donovan

    It is becoming increasingly clear that efforts to improve risk-appropriate site of delivery may benefit from close collaboration among perinatal care providers, payers and public health organizations. State health departments and state hospital associations often manage repositories of population-level perinatal data while perinatal quality collaboratives can engage front-line providers. Collaborative partnerships among these entities can facilitate improved outcomes at the population level.

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  • Healthy Weight Initiative Thrives By Focusing on Healthy Lifestyles, Not Weight

    Posted March 22, 2016 by Cindy Hutter

    Through a Healthy Weight Initiative at the Greater New Bedford Community Health Center, well over 200 kids have learned about monitoring sleep routines, fruit and veggie intake, screen time, physical activity and sweetened beverages. It’s a focus on healthier lifestyles and better choices, not weight loss, which is helping kids and families to see results.

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  • 6 Tips for Encouraging Pilot Sites to Collect Data

    Posted March 17, 2016 by Cindy Hutter

    Engaging pilot sites to test out change ideas and collect data is one of the best ways to learn how to make change at a local level. Pilot sites can test ideas and assist with planning and implementing a project “on the ground” with individuals in a project’s target audience. If pilot sites are challenged around collecting data to drive their improvement efforts, here are six tips to support them.

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  • Best Practices for Inclusion of Men and Dads in Children’s Health

    Posted March 15, 2016 by Josh Grant

    Children greatly benefit from having active paternal figures in their lives. According to the State of the World’s Fathers report, it leads to improved mental health in children, higher immunization rates and support for women who are breastfeeding. The creation and availability of educational resources that encourage male involvement are crucial to achieving that. Knowing this, the California WIC Association (CWA) created "Engaging Men & Dads at WIC: A Toolkit" to help the local WIC (Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program) organizations better connect with dads.

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  • Better Care for High-Risk Babies: Improving Perinatal Regionalization in Illinois

    Posted March 10, 2016 by Elizabeth Baker

    An ongoing effort from the Illinois team involved in the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN) is to get 90 percent of very preterm infants in Illinois delivered in Level 3 perinatal facilities. These facilities feature neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), where a combination of leading-edge technology and specially trained staff can vastly improve health outcomes for high-risk babies.

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  • WIC Reps Bridge Gap Between Community and Hospitals through Breastfeeding Support

    Posted March 08, 2016 by Sonya Spillmann, RN

    With both large urban and rural areas in Texas, sharing consistent and accurate information about the benefits of breastfeeding with mothers and healthcare workers is an enormous undertaking. One statewide initiative, the Texas Ten Step Star Achiever Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative, is harnessing the power of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) staff, using them as conduits for communicating evidence-based practices and offering guidance to both mothers and healthcare providers.

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  • 4 Strategies for Building a Public Health Social Movement

    Posted March 03, 2016 by Cindy Hutter

    Forget the old marketing tactic of shouting loud and often. Mario Drummonds, MS, LCSW, MBA, the CEO of Strategy Interactions, and a participant in the NICHQ-led Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (IM CoIIN), shares four strategies for building a public health social movement to increase state and national attention on your healthcare issue.

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  • South Carolina Finds Winning Strategy to Reducing Unintended Pregnancies in its Medicaid Population

    Posted March 01, 2016 by Wendy Loveland

    In South Carolina, half of all pregnancies in 2010 were unintended, primarily due to either lack of or failed contraceptives. Within the South Carolina Medicaid population, almost 79 percent of women defined their pregnancy as unintended. This is particularly troubling because births resulting from unintended pregnancies are linked to adverse maternal and child health outcomes and myriad social and economic challenges. To reduce this percentage, South Carolina Medicaid began a policy change in 2012 aimed at increasing the use of immediate postpartum inpatient insertions of long-acting, reversible contraceptives (LARCs).

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  • Why and How to Include the Patient-Family Voice in a Medical Home

    Posted December 23, 2014 by Bonnie Thompson, Mass Family Voices

    As more primary care practices work towards identifying themselves as a medical home, patients and family caregivers can play a vital role in shaping how healthcare is delivered.

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  • Incorporating Quality Improvement in Public Health

    Posted November 11, 2014 by Lloyd Provost, MS

    From my recent experience at the Infant Mortality Summits, a meeting of the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) to Reduce Infant Mortality, it seems that the time is ripe for the widespread growth of quality improvement (QI) strategies in the public health arena.

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  • Contradicting Assumptions About Infant Mortality Rates: How Far Upstream?

    Posted November 04, 2014 by Charles J. Homer, MD, MPH

    Learning often begins when facts contradict our assumptions. While attending the kickoff summits of the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) to Reduce Infant Mortality in July, I became aware of at least two facts that contradicted my previous assumptions: (1) that infant mortality rates for non-Hispanic blacks are higher in the upper Midwestern states than they are in the deep South and (2) that the declines in infant mortality in several southern states over the past decade have been steeper than anywhere else in the country.

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  • Stories Matter

    Posted October 20, 2014 by Marianne McPherson, PhD, MS

    In previous blog posts, I’ve often featured a children’s story as the jumping off point for my message. This time, “story” is the message.

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  • Improvements in Maternity Care Practice Are Not Easy

    Posted September 22, 2014 by Lori Feldman-Winter, MD, MPH

    As NICHQ’s faculty chair for Best Fed Beginnings, a national initiative that supports hospitals seeking Baby-Friendly designation, I am frequently exposed to pushback regarding the improvements required for a hospital to achieve this designation. Recently, an article published in the Washington Post portrayed Baby-Friendly practices as a problematic set of policies that “force” a new mother to breastfeed against her wishes. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

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  • Living the Life of a Sickle Cell Warrior

    Posted September 15, 2014 by Fatima Oyeku

    In support of National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, NICHQ invited Fatima Oyeku, a woman living with sickle cell disease, to share her perspective. “Maybe I'm just being overly optimistic, but I honestly think SCD could be eradicated if more people knew their trait status and have the opportunity to make an informed decision about having children,” she says.

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  • Communicate, Collaborate and Innovate to Reduce Infant Mortality

    Posted July 02, 2014 by Peter Gloor, PhD

    Compared to other Western countries, infant mortality in the US is shockingly high. High infant mortality is a social problem that can only be solved through massive collaboration and out-of-the-box innovation.

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  • Collective Impact: Coloring a New Vision of Collaboration

    Posted May 07, 2014 by Marianne McPherson, PhD, MS

    The concept of collective impact is in NICHQ's DNA. All of our work is in some way about bring together participants from difference sectors committed to a common agenda to solve complex social problems. Until recently, we didn't have the benefit of the language or framework.

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  • What's in a Name

    Posted April 14, 2014 by Charlie Homer

    To more accurately reflect our purpose, we are making a change in our name, from “healthcare” to “health.” NICHQ’s purpose has always been to improve children’s health. That is our passion and now our name is aligned.

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