Full name and title
Pat Heinrich, RN, MSN, CLE, NICHQ Executive Project Director
Years with NICHQ
What is your favorite memory from a NICHQ project?
My favorite memory was from our very first asthma quality improvement (QI) project: Helping Improve Pediatric Practice Outcomes (HIPPO).
I went to a local inner-city health center and told them that the new National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute guidelines suggested all families be given an “Asthma Management Plan” (AMP). The team insisted their patients would not find them useful, but I told them it was a new job for me and I begged them to test with five patients. They predicted they’d find them in the trash outside the clinic. Two weeks later, at our next meeting, they showed me five food/garbage stained AMPs they dug out of the trash...
It was a perfect example of quality improvement at work. We worked with them and ultimately we designed a tool the families found useful (the HIPPO AMP).
"Pat is the ultimate team player. She is always willing to jump in and help all team members. No task or job is beneath her if it is for the benefit of the project."
NICHQ Senior Project Manager, Leah Jardine, MA.
Please share your biggest lesson-learned when working on a quality improvement project.
This is hard work. It takes, “will, ideas, and execution,” so we need to be patient and include patients and families on our QI teams to help the clinical team know what is really important.
What was the funniest thing that ever happened on a NICHQ project?
Funniest thing that happened was from an event, not a project. The NICHQ Annual Forum back in 2006 was scheduled at a hotel in Florida and, after all the contracts were signed, the hotel informed us that there would also be a convention of “Pure Romance” in the hotel with our group. Our CEO at the time, and one of NICHQ's founders, Charlie Homer, was a very serious leader, so we didn’t tell him until he arrived.
What are you most proud of from your time with NICHQ?
The 20 years of effort to improve children’s health care and population health. I am really proud of the colleagues I work with – their passion for improving children’s health and commitment to our mission are the reason we are able to be successful in transforming care for children and families
What are your goals for NICHQ’s future?
1) I want, more than anything else, to see NICHQ continue to move the dot to decrease infant mortality and also decrease maternal mortality and related disparities.
2) In the National Network of Perinatal Quality Collaborative (NNPQC), state PQCs work to spread best practices, reduce practice variation, reduce health care inequities, and optimize resources to improve perinatal care and outcomes statewide. The NNPQC gives them a platform to share and learn from each other. During this project, I want to see states transform perinatal care to improve measurable outcomes for maternal and infant health by advancing evidence-informed clinical practices and processes using QI principles.
3) I want all health care providers to appreciate how working with patients and family partners improves many aspects of health care performance and accelerates the speed at which the improvements occur. When they truly value this contribution, they will always include family partners on their teams.
“The Act of Making a Referral is Not Enough”
Universal developmental screenings can help identify children at risk for developmental delays and connect them with needed supports. An effective screening process relies on successful referrals though—if there is no follow-up with the referred child, families can never access the supports the child may need, and that child may ultimately fall through the cracks. Here, Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health provides five steps to build a referral process that works.
Neonatologist Shares Successful Strategies for Improving Infant Health Outcomes
Babies born in the United States have a higher chance of death than babies born in more than 50 other countries in the world. Harnessing lessons-learned from successful improvement initiatives can help hospitals and state health systems address this alarming statistic. Here, pioneer for improvement Deborah Campbell, MD, FAAP, shares strategies and lessons-learned from three successful improvement efforts: improving nutrition protocols for preterm infants; spreading safe sleep messages to reduce infant deaths; and testing strategies to lower rates of maternal hemorrhage, and related mortality and morbidity.
Eliminating the Consequences of Maternal Depression
Experts from the Brookings Institution, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the Medical University of South Carolina and Postpartum Support Charleston analyze the impact of maternal depression on children and families, and offer strategies health professionals can take to ensure that more mothers are screened and referred to support and resources.
Providing Developmental Screenings and Services in Rural Communities
Families in rural communities across the country face unique barriers to supporting their children’s developmental health and well-being. Here, learn how community coalitions in Alaska are connecting families to needed supports and services, so more rural children can start school ready to succeed.
It Takes a Community to Save Babies
By partnering with community programs and organizations, public health initiatives can give families opportunities to learn about safe sleep from trusted members of their community who share their lived experience. Here, find six strategies for engaging community partners, maintaining that partnership, and collaborating to raise awareness.
Fathers: Powerful Allies for Maternal and Child Health
Supporting father engagement and involvement is a critical opportunity to improve children’s health outcomes in the decades to come, says NICHQ President and CEO Scott D. Berns. Here, he describes three strategies for supporting fathers as powerful allies in maternal and child health outcomes.