HCIF is Seeking a Project Manager

June 13, 2022

The Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF) is seeking a full-time Project Manager to support HCIF clinical and quality improvement programs under the supervision of the Vice President of Clinical Improvement and in collaboration with HCIF’s clinical advisors, partners and other stakeholders.

Candidates for consideration must have a Master’s degree (or Master’s candidate) in a health-related field with three to five years of project management experience in a hospital or other healthcare setting. Responsible for managing day-to-day project assignments, monitoring grant and contract requirements and timelines, working with a clinical registry and running registry reports, assisting in planning and executing meetings and events, developing and delivering project reports and presentations, communicating with project teams, and promoting projects on HCIF’s website and through social media. Successful candidate will have a strong capacity for teamwork, a high degree of attention to detail and accountability to project deadlines and deliverables, skilled in meeting and event planning, excellent oral and written communication skills, and experience with data collection and analysis. Starting annual salary of $54,000.

Click here to read the full job description.

In support of our commitment to diversity and equity, HCIF welcomes a diverse candidate pool.  EEO Employer F/M/veterans/individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

To apply, please send your resume to Kmccoy@haponline.org

The Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF) has been operating in Philadelphia as an independent organization since 2003 and was founded with a vision to support a responsive, coordinated health care delivery system that fulfills the needs of patients and consumers, and achieves better health. Through large-scale collaboration HCIF works with health systems, community based organizations, payors and a variety of other stakeholders to find solutions to complex healthcare challenges, which any one stakeholder could not achieve alone. Since its inception, HCIF has worked with numerous organizations to improve quality of care, health equity, patient safety, and population health issues such as, COVID-19, perinatal care, readmissions, cancer, workplace violence, food insecurity, trauma informed care, and health literacy. HCIF’s work covers Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Mid-Atlantic region.

The Board of Directors is composed of leaders representing health systems, health payers, the business community, and the public health sector. HCIF maintains a staff of eleven (11) professionals and is supported by contributions from hospitals and health systems, government grants, contracts, partnerships with corporate sources and payers, and donations from foundations and individual donors.

President’s Update: May 2022

We Need to Talk About Mental Health

Wendy Nickel

May 24, 2022

My heart is heavy today as news trickles in about the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school, which so far, has claimed the lives of 19 innocent children and 2 adults. The dinner table was quiet tonight, as I thought about what to say to my own children, ages 17, 16 and 13. My oldest son was teaching science at an elementary school today as part of a high school program – he was especially quiet.

In the aftermath of the shooting, I can predict the requisite conversations about gun control and social media influences. There will be discussions about mental health and the need for better resources and tools, and suggestions about how to mend a broken system. But these same discussions occurred after Sandy Hook… and all of the mass shootings since, and not much has changed.

It’s time to have a serious conversation about mental health. We can’t afford NOT to talk about it. We can’t afford to lose more elementary school children or people shopping in a grocery store or people going to see a movie or people going to religious services. We can’t afford to have conversations about mental health only after mass shootings. We should be talking about it every minute of every hour of every day. This Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s pledge to keep talking about mental health long after May is over.

According to the World Health Organization, global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25% during the first year of the COVID pandemic. Youth have experienced the biggest impacts: 15% of youths experienced major depressive disorder in 2019 (up 1.24% from the previous year) – over 60% did not receive any mental health treatment. In Texas, nearly 75% did not receive mental health treatment. (Source: Reinert, M, Fritze, D. & Nguyen, T. October 2021. “The State of Mental Health in America 2022” Mental Health America, Alexandria VA.). These numbers don’t account for the impact of COVID-19, which likely only exacerbated the increase in mental health disorders over the past two years.

The reasons for the growing mental health crisis are numerous and complex. They include a paucity of behavioral health providers, lack of parity in reimbursement for physical vs. mental health services, continued stigmatization of mental disorders, and a system that is only set up to address mental health crises, as opposed to preventing them in the first place. Isolation, disruption in social opportunities, and barriers to health and social services have added to pre-pandemic challenges.

It’s time to talk as a nation about solutions to the mental health crisis in America, starting with promoting mental health as essential to physical health. It’s time to talk about developing policy to ensure reimbursement parity for mental health services. We need to talk about creating a pathway for more to pursue careers in behavioral health and entertain innovative models, such as training community peers and embedding behavioral health providers in school systems. We need to talk about mental wellness and the known best practices for taking time out of your day to employ these strategies. We need to be having conversations about how to ensure individuals who are at higher risk for experiencing mental health disorders, such as BIPOC and transgender youth, have access to the services they need. We need to talk about taking care of our communities and removing the stressors that cause mental health disorders. Let’s promise to keep talking out loud about mental health and taking action to solve the complex problems that are in front of us. HCIF can be your partner in these conversations and we pledge to bring together stakeholders to find solutions. Take time to pay attention to your own mental health as we take on this challenge – we’re going to need your strength. Talk to your colleagues, your friends, your loved ones, and especially your children about the importance of mental wellness. Please feel free to reach out to me or any of our HCIF staff members if you want to talk.

Board Profile: A Conversation with Dr. Patricia Sullivan, PhD, RN

May 24, 2022

In a month that observes both National Hospital Week and National Nurses Week, HCIF is honored to interview Dr. Patricia Sullivan, PhD, RN and celebrate her exemplary work for this month’s Board profile. Pat is the Chief Quality Officer for Penn Medicine, and she also serves as Chair of HCIF’S Board of Directors.

What are some of the responsibilities in your current role?

My current role is to oversee quality at the Penn Medicine system level. I work with each of the hospitals and organizations within Penn Medicine to help develop and drive strategy to provide services and roles that are specialized and too valuable to have to replicate at every place. I also help disseminate and spread the best practices where we see the best outcomes. We don’t want every hospital and organization to reinvent the wheel; we want people to learn from each other. We work through a blueprint for quality and our goals are around excellent patient-centered outcomes, zero harm to patients and staff, and exceptional experience.

What drove you to pursue a career in healthcare?

My basic training was as a nurse. I was a critical care nurse, and I happened to be at the right place at the right time and got promoted to nurse manager at a young age. And then I was bitten by the management bug and never looked back! I love healthcare at its core. I found that it was very gratifying to be able to help people feel better. Even if you couldn’t always cure them, you could help them have a better quality of life. And as a nurse you could do different things to help relax [patients] and manage pain. As a teenager I was a volunteer in hospitals and had a great experience and that is what made me decide to go into nursing. Where I was raised, this was in the age when women were not necessarily encouraged to go into medicine. But that’s all changed now, which is wonderful.

What is a recent memorable experience you’ve had as a healthcare professional?

It was during [the Covid-19 pandemic] — the day we decided we were shutting down was Friday, March 13th [2020], and my boss, the Chief Medical Officer, announced that we needed to set up testing sites in the community by that Monday. And we did it! It was an effort of so many people, but all weekend long we worked simulating how traffic would be in a parking lot that belonged to one of our hospitals. It was an amazing experience to see how many could come together from an innovation center, operations, the lab, nurses—you needed all these people. And it was an incredible team effort and we just kept improving it every day as we learned new things.

The second part of that was when we set up roving immunization clinics in West Philadelphia. We went to the churches first then we were using high schools, and we were seeing up to 1000 people a day. It was amazing how you could take up and entire gym and simulate everything and then execute it. I had never worked in the community before and by far that was one of my most memorable moments in all of my career, to be part of such a talented team where everyone was working with the same goal. You don’t get tons of opportunities like that. I made new friendships and new relationships with the people I found myself working next to.

What has been your proudest professional achievement?

On one level it’s having the opportunity to work in quality and patient safety in an excellent academic health care organization. The other thing I might say is earning my PhD. That was hard— working the whole time and getting that dissertation done. I called my mother when I finished successfully defending it as I was not successful on the first try. I used to tease my mother all the time— she’s Ukrainian and my father was Spanish— and I would say I got my emotion and passion from my dad but my persistence and “stick to it” was from my mother. And when I called her I said “Mom, this is for you because it was not my intelligence that got me to the end of this road, it was my persistence and resilience and that came from you and I’m so grateful.”

What inspires you?

When I can help people do the right thing; whether it be processes that generate quality outcomes or working with doctors, nurses, providers, and clinicians to help them in some way do their jobs. Being able to remove barriers and connect the dots for people, so they understand how the things we do are related and not disparate efforts and watching people work and do the right thing inspires me enormously.

What is something you’ve learned being a part of the HCIF Board?

I’ve learned about the community health organizations and how important of a role they play in health and health care. Health is social determinants, your habits, and healthcare combining to impact your ultimate outcomes, and what I’ve learned from the people who sit around the Board table at HCIF is how important these things are and how we can work together.

I’ve also learned what it’s like to bring people together, who normally see themselves as competition, to work in a collaborative fashion so that we can all get better. Being given the right opportunity and environment to do that is very powerful. HCIF is a great neutral convener.

What excites you most about being a member of the HCIF Board?

I’m excited by strategy, so having the opportunity to participate on the strategic roadmap process is exciting. I also like the ability to hear other perspectives. I don’t want to miss a meeting because the perspectives are priceless. Meeting people who don’t have the same role as you and learning what they do and who they are as people—you have new friends and new contacts!

As the current Board chair, what do you envision for the future of HCIF?

I envision that we are going to chart a path that is going to help HCIF continue to get bigger and better in terms of our ability to have an impact on health and healthcare. I want to see the organization grow and take advantage of opportunities that exist that will help us meet our mission. I love our new mission and vision that we worked on collectively. I feel very honored to be [Board Chair.] It’s an honor and a responsibility to be a good leader and helping to make sure we get the most out of the talent we have at the Board level.

When you’re not busy working to improve the lives of others, what do you like to do?

I like to garden—I love flowers. I also like to be active outside and I like to travel. In 2018, four of us went to Africa and it was the trip of the lifetime—it changed me in a different way. In September, the same group is going on a backroads hiking tour in Northern Italy. I think learning about different people’s cultures and getting out of your comfort zone helps you be more open-minded to other parts of your life.

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

Most people don’t know that I’m an avid sports fan, particularly baseball and football. And the problem I always run into is that I’m originally from New York, and I have not been able to shed my loyalty to the New York teams as opposed to the Philadelphia teams, so I try to keep a low profile around that. But I was the oldest of the girl cousins in my family and I grew up going to professional baseball and football games. I like strategy—not the violence involved.

Partner Profile: A Conversation with Shonalie Roberts, MHA, ARM, LSSGB

May 24, 2022

The Health Care Improvement Foundation’s (HCIF) Partner Profiles highlight the efforts of valued and innovative health leaders. Our partners’ work supports HCIF’s vision of healthier communities through equitable, accessible, and quality health care

As HCIF concludes year one of our Health Equity Data Strategy (HEDS) collaborative, we are pleased to feature Shonalie Roberts, MHA, ARM, LSSGB, System Director of Health Equity at Main Line Health. Shonalie serves on the HEDS Advisory Group that consists of health equity leaders and experts who have helped to establish the scope of the collaborative, support the launch of the program, and provide feedback on the HEDS Baseline Survey.

You serve on the Advisory Group for HCIF’s Health Equity Data Strategy (HEDS) and you played a key role in supporting the HEDS Collaborative launch and first year milestones, such as the HEDS Baseline Survey. What do you consider to be some of the greatest strengths of the HEDS Collaborative? What are you most looking forward to the HEDS Collaborative accomplishing in years to come?

Serving as an advisor for the HEDS collaborative has offered a unique opportunity to locally collaborate towards the development and enhancement of data collection and stratification initiatives that could help identify and reduce health disparities. Though functioning as individual institutions, collectively, the HEDS member organizations’ goal is simple – improving health outcomes for all by focusing efforts on where the greatest opportunities exist. One of the greatest strengths of this Collaborative is the forum it creates to foster collaboration through shared learning. I look forward to collective action to support hospitals in this region to taking tangible steps to improving health outcomes.

In addition to participating in HEDS, Main Line Health has demonstrated a commitment to health equity through its leadership and participation in a number of collaboratives, including the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Pursuing Equity Initiative. What is one of the most impactful changes that Main Line Health has achieved with regards to health equity?

For the past 10+ years, Main Line Health has been committed to addressing disparities in care, advancing health equity, and fostering a care and work environment that is grounded in diversity, respect, and inclusion. In that regard, and via our participation in IHI Pursuing Equity, we’ve adopted IHI’s 5-pillar framework. Notably, we’ve included health equity in our strategic plan, added Diversity, Respect, Equity, and Inclusion (DREI) as one of our core values, established accountable infrastructure to lead, implement, evaluate and communicate our DREI work, and are building and strengthening diverse community partnerships.

We are taking a holistic approach to achieving equity in every aspect of our organization’s work – for our employees, patients, and the greater community we serve. We have made many changes that have had tremendous impact but there is plenty that we still have to do. One of the most impactful changes has been with the collection of REaL data and, more recently, the stratification of key measures by REaL data. We embarked on a campaign to bolster accurate REaL data collection about 7 years ago, which included staff training and support on WHY it is important to collect patient self-reported data. Efforts from that campaign, called “We Ask Because We Care” and adapted from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Aligning Forces for Quality, helped us to significantly improve REaL data capture and reduce the ratio of race and ethnicity data captured as “unknown” and “other” within our electronic health record (EHR). Now, with this data, we can look at our key quality of care metrics and determine whether and where there are disparities in outcomes that we should be focusing on.

What is one key thing you would like the public, or someone not in health care, to understand about health equity and the role it serves in our communities and the healthcare system as a whole?

Health equity is an important and complex topic. There is no exact pathway to achieve equity and by no means is there a one-size fits all strategy. It is a continuous pursuit and journey that takes time and sustained effort.

The work around health equity, which includes addressing the social determinants of health needs (those non-medical barriers like access to stable housing, healthy food, and transportation, that may impact health outcomes) involves community and preventive care – something hospitals and health systems were not traditionally built or set up to address. From a hospital and health system perspective, we have been in the treatment business, not in the preventive care business. So we are navigating new and difficult challenges in a new and difficult space. We have to innovate and change is hard. Learning to provide community, preventive, primary, secondary and follow up care for a patient across a continuum is not easy because often the existing processes work contrary to that and more often than not, patients unintentionally fall through the cracks in our systems – creating disparities, and inequities. Also, most of the work to achieve optimal health cannot occur within the hospital walls, so it requires community outreach, partnership, engagement, and trust. Hospitals must engage with the communities they serve to address these barriers.

Reflecting on your own professional background and accomplishments, how did you become interested in health equity?  What is one of your greatest accomplishments within your field so far (in other words, what are you most proud of)?

I was attracted to health equity by the very same thing that attracted me to health care – helping others. Particularly those whose voice may not always be present or amplified to the level that influences decision making – those historically underserved and marginalized communities. These populations, despite individual successes within these groups and their own beautiful and rich community assets, experience barriers that negatively affect their health and in many instances these barriers are negatively impacting their opportunities to thrive in society. These barriers are steeped in individual and structural racism, bias (overt and implicit), underinvestment in their communities, and so on and so forth.

I think back to when I first moved to the United States and how difficult it was to access healthcare. My father – who had been an architect and project manager in the Caribbean where I’m from – could not get a job here in the US in spite of his credentials and years of experience. Without a job – health insurance was virtually unattainable for him and for us. In the US, employment creates access to insurance for most individuals. For my family, government-sponsored insurance was out of the question and in fact, for some, if not many Caribbean households, there’s stigma attached to public assistance and many avoid it. So, it wasn’t until my college years that I had access to care through my student status. Perhaps with education and trust-building, we can instill confidence in the resources (publicly-offered or otherwise) that already exist to help others who may need it. And of course by helping those who need the most help, you naturally help everyone. By addressing issues with how health care is delivered for the most vulnerable, you improve the way health care is delivered for all. And by improving access to care for more, you improve the health and wellbeing of the community. I see that as my role.

I think we still have a lot of work to do as a nation, within healthcare and even within my organization -MLH. Though I am quite proud of how far we’ve come. I’m most proud of the work we have done as a health system to educate, train, and support our staff to be more aware of DREI topics and to move from awareness into action. Through our mandatory DREI Learning Experience (now virtually offered), all employees will be re-trained in DREI principles. I’m also proud of our system’s growing partnerships with the community, including Together for West Philadelphia, a collaborative of more than 20 community, public, and private sector stakeholders fostering shared projects to maximize impact in health, education, food access and opportunity.

What have you found most valuable about working with HCIF? What is something you’ve learned through our partnership?

The collaboration within this region is most helpful. Often health care organizations see each other as competitors and this work is a good reason, the right reason, to come together and work together for the benefit of the patients we serve together. HCIF provides the necessary neutral forum to do this.

What is a quote that inspires you in your work?

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Something you may not know about Shonalie…

As a Caribbean-born American, I am eager to travel to more Caribbean countries, for the rich history and diversity across and within these countries, in addition to their warm weather and beautiful, clear beaches! My favorite book is The Other Wes Moore-One Name, Two Fates – An easy read that illuminates the lives of two kids with the same name who traverse different paths. It affirms the power and influence of our physical, familial, social, and economic environment to shape our life path.  For me in my role, it reminds me of the complexity of health equity because the very premise of this work is caring for individuals in the way they want to/need to be treated – not treating everyone the same or equally. The book, like my work, reiterates the complexity of our individual lives and circumstances and reinforces the importance of seeing people for who they are as individuals – with unique lived experiences – who must be cared for, in that way.

If you are interested in connecting with our partner on LinkedIn, you can find Shonalie Roberts here.


HCIF Recognized as a Healthy People 2030 Champion for Supporting the Initiative’s Vision

May 23, 2022

(Philadelphia, PA) — HCIF is pleased to be recognized by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a Healthy People 2030 Champion.

As a Healthy People 2030 Champion, HCIF has demonstrated a commitment to helping achieve the Healthy People 2030 vision of a society in which all people can achieve their full potential for health and well-being across the lifespan. ODPHP recognizes HCIF, along with other Healthy People 2030 Champions, as part of a growing network of organizations partnering with ODPHP to improve health and well-being at the local, state, and tribal level.

“HCIF is delighted to be chosen as a Healthy People 2030 champion,” says Wendy Nickel, President, Health Care Improvement Foundation. “Our vision for healthier communities through equitable, accessible and quality health care closely aligns with this initiative to improve health and well-being across the nation. We are confident our regional efforts will contribute to the achievement of the Healthy People 2030 goals.”

“ODPHP is thrilled to recognize HCIF for its work to support the Healthy People 2030 vision,” says RADM Paul Reed, MD, ODPHP Director. “Only by collaborating with partners nationwide can we achieve Healthy People 2030’s overarching goals and objectives.”

Healthy People 2030 is the fifth iteration of the Healthy People initiative, which sets 10-year national objectives to improve health and well-being nationwide. Healthy People 2030 Champions are public and private organizations that are working to help achieve Healthy People objectives. They receive official support and recognition from ODPHP.

The Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF) has been operating in Philadelphia as an independent organization since 2003 and was founded with a vision to support a responsive, coordinated health care delivery system that fulfills the needs of patients and consumers, and achieves better health. Through large-scale collaboration HCIF works with health systems, community based organizations, payors and a variety of other stakeholders to find solutions to complex healthcare challenges, which any one stakeholder could not achieve alone. Since its inception, HCIF has worked with numerous organizations to improve quality of care, health equity, patient safety, and population health issues such as, COVID-19, perinatal care, readmissions, cancer, workplace violence, food insecurity, trauma informed care, and health literacy. HCIF’s work covers Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the Mid-Atlantic region.

The Board of Directors is composed of leaders representing health systems, health payers, the business community, and the public health sector. HCIF maintains a staff of ten (10) professionals and is supported by contributions from hospitals and health systems, government grants, contracts, partnerships with corporate sources and payers, and donations from foundations and individual donors.

Healthy People 2030 Champion is a service mark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Used with permission. Participation by HCIF does not imply endorsement by HHS/ODPHP.

About the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP)

ODPHP plays a vital role in keeping the nation healthy through Healthy People 2030, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition, and other programs, services, and education activities. ODPHP is part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To learn more about ODPHP, visit health.gov or follow @HealthGov on Twitter.