Healthcare Improvement Foundation Welcomes Kathy Donohue, RN, BSN, MBA, FAHM, CHCQM, CPPS, NEA-BC to its Board Of Directors

Philadelphia, PA – 3.8.23 – The Health Care Improvement Foundation is proud to announce that Kathleen Donohue, RN, BSN, MBA, FAHM, CHCQM, CPPS, NEA-BC has joined its talented Board of Directors. Ms. Donohue is the Director of Quality at Independence Blue Cross, with a background in nursing and clinical leadership. Ms. Donohue has expertise in change management, improving quality and patient safety, as well as leading population health initiatives.

We are honored to welcome Kathy to our Board,” said Wendy Nickel, President Health Care Improvement Foundation. “We are delighted to continue our longstanding tradition of partnership with Independence Blue Cross and are fortunate that Kathy will serve in that role.”

The Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF),, was founded 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.

Board Profile: A Conversation with Joanne Craig, M.S.

To honor and celebrate Black History Month, HCIF would like to recognize and amplify the work of Black health care professionals in our region. As such, we had the pleasure of interviewing Joanne Craig, M.S., Chief Impact Officer at the Foundation for Delaware County. Joanne also serves on HCIF’s Board of Directors and offers valuable insight to the Board with her unique experience in health care. Read below to learn more about her and the important work she does.

What drove you to pursue a career in health care?

I came into the healthcare space in more of a supportive role. I developed community-based programming that created supportive resources. I then started working in maternal and child health and discovered that the Black infant mortality rate in Chester City was worse than in third world countries. Black children were dying at an unconscionable rate. I found myself in a position where I was able to work within the community and begin to address the high and disparate rates of Black infant mortality and high Black maternal morality so maternal and birth outcomes could be improved. I have spent the better part of my career working in Delaware County and seen firsthand when people struggle to find and access resources and services. In Delaware County for example, there are a lot of folks that do not speak English as their first language and/or are undocumented. I want to make sure all people know where, how, and when to connect to resources.

What are some of your favorite parts of your role?

I do a lot of work in advocacy and policy to make sure “upstream” changes are made. I love the work to achieve health equity and working with all kinds of folks. I always try to keep an ear close to the ground as I want to amplify, raise, and elevate voices. I enjoy being able to do this work because it’s fulfilling to me when policy changes occur, a health concern gets resolved or people’s needs are met.

What has been the most rewarding part about serving on HCIF’s Board of Directors?

Being in this space with HCIF and having the opportunity to listen and learn. Serving on the HCIF Board of Directors is a great connection to the work that I’m doing. Additionally, being on the other side of health care, I know that I can carry the messages and voices from the folks who are receiving services and make sure those people are represented in Board meetings.

What excites you most about the future of health care?

The opportunities and the possibilities. Health care practitioners recognize that they can only do but so much. Early on, when I was teaching health literacy I used to say that you need to be a partner in your own good health. It’s a collaboration and partnership. The best health care practitioner is one working in partnership with their patient, listening, educating them, and being available to them so they can make informed decisions.

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

Hearing from those that we serve. When I’ve worked with an individual or family, you spend a good length of time with folks. When the child gets older, they may age out of the program. I’m always grateful to have that mom, grandmother, or other family member express their thanks and talk about how they have benefited from the program.

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

I’m a trained florist. I love to garden, decorate, and make floral arrangements.

Board Profile: A Conversation with Stephanie Zarus, Pharm.D.

December 6, 2022

For this month’s Board Profile, HCIF had the pleasure of interviewing Stephanie Zarus, Pharm.D. Stephanie is the Managing Director of Healthcare Innovation for Avancer Group, Inc. and the outgoing Governance Committee Chair of HCIF’s Board of Directors. Her career in pharmacy and health care has helped thousands of patients access affordable and quality medication. Stephanie’s knowledge, expertise, and wit has guided her throughout her career and made her an inspiration for all who come in contact with her. She will be missed on our Board of Directors, but her impact will last for years to come. Read below to learn more about her.

Tell me about your professional history and your work experience.

I am a pharmacist by training, who has always leaned toward administration over clinical practice. In the early 1990’s, I was part of the founding team who started Hospice Pharmacia/ excelleRx, a technology-based medication management company. We focused initially on improving the cost and care and service for terminally ill patients in hospice programs. We were among the first pharmacists to push the envelope enabling patient “care without walls”. Meaning that medication could be accessed for patients wherever the patient was, without the barriers caused by having to procure and submit a paper prescription. Our mission was to ensure that every person in our care could access the medication they needed, when they needed it, at home or in a health care facility.

As a company founder, I was fortunate to be involved in setting the organization’s mission and vision. Over time, I had a hand in building teams, selling services, formalizing operations and insuring performance improvement.  It was the experiences I had in performance improvement and quality controls that lead me to crossing paths with other quality experts who served on HCIF’s board. In 2006, I was invited to serve on HCIF’s Board for the first time.  I have been fortunate to serve on the board for two full terms. My interest continues to be on health care quality, though HCIF has broadened my understanding and interests into the many nuanced areas that inform quality and care.

What drove you to pursue a career in healthcare?

I have old school parents who are the sweetest, most lovable, and wonderful people in the world. They instilled in their children that the world is our oyster.  College is a choice if we can get in, pay for it, do well, and have a job at the end. I thought my dream was to write children’s books.  What materialized for me happened when I met a pharmacy professor on the West Philadelphia campus of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (now part of St. Joe’s). He took me for a tour, told me about the school, gave me a stethoscope, and handed me an application. He convinced me that my interest in science would be a good fit and that a pharmacy profession welcomed women. Ultimately what drove me to pursue a career in healthcare was my interest in science and the promise of a career.

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

So many things. I continue to learn about the depth of public health needs in our region and how these needs are addressed (for better or worse) in the clinical care systems available. I continue to learn how our systems improve clinical quality, whether through access barriers, informed care, literacy or minimizing/mitigating a cadre of other risks factors.  I also respect the process HCIF uses.  By convening people from different institutions, organizations, and health backgrounds HCIF can facilitate the exploration of a health issue and generate a resolution that incorporates system changes while keeping a focus on the needs of the people who are seeking improved health.

What has been the most rewarding part about serving on HCIF’s Board of Directors?

For me, the people. They’re kind, gifted, and willing to help you see health in different ways. HCIF has an excellent staff, and the board leadership is diverse and experienced. Together, the team is dedicated, driven, and smart.

What excites you most about the future of health care?

There is so much space for technology in health care. Everything from improving our use of artificial intelligence in diagnosing and prospective analysis regarding patient response, to the use of targeted molecular interventions. We have barely begun to dream of ways to use machine learning in health care.  Even with the excitement of technology, preserving the human touch in health care remains the most important to me.

What worries you about the future of health care?

The cost of care and the need for our systems to commercialize people’s health, is a primary concern. We are scheduling appointments and providing care around billing codes. How do we move away from this?  I am also concerned about the degree of anger in our region. Gun violence is a life threat in our region. There is a cultural problem when people turn to killing one another. How does the health system consider violence and aggression as a risk factor and how can we mitigate this?

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

I like to bring people together. I organize events, do photography, participate in book clubs, do yoga, bike, ski, garden, and travel all over. I did just get back from the ultimate bucket list trip—cooking school in Italy! I do a lot of cooking because I love to host. Anything that keeps me learning and engaged with other people, building a strong community and giving back is where you will find me.

Men’s Health Awareness Month

Meghan Smith, MPH

December 5, 2022

November was Men’s Health Awareness Month which is a time dedicated to bringing awareness to a wide range of men’s health issues. One of HCIF’s clinical improvement initiatives – Pennsylvania Urologic Regional Collaborative (PURC) – is specifically focused on supporting urology practices in advancing the quality of diagnosis and care for men with prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in men in the U.S., and the 4th most common tumor diagnosed worldwide. In the United States, 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. Sadly, disparities permeate the diagnosis, treatment and outcomes related to prostate cancer. For Black men, 1 in 6 will develop prostate cancer and are more than twice as likely to die from the disease. Even though this type of cancer is common, it is a treatable and manageable disease, especially when caught in its earliest stages. The overall five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is 98 percent which means a man diagnosed with prostate cancer has a 98 percent chance of being alive five years later!

“Prostate cancer is a serious condition, but it is rarely an emergency. Patients should not be pressured into a quick treatment decision.  It is crucial that patient education is emphasized, and shared decision making is embraced.”

-Dr. Serge Ginzburg, MD – Albert Einstein Medical Center

To identify prostate cancer early, it’s important for patients to discuss screening options with their doctors. Key factors to consider in coordination with your doctor are age, race, and family history – all of which can impact the likelihood of developing prostate cancer. In most cases, prostate cancer is a slow-growing disease and there is time to gather information, consider all options, and make a plan following diagnosis.

“The critical element of prostate cancer screening is not only identifying the presence of malignancy, but also tailoring management to a patient’s specific type of cancer thereby personalizing individual care for patients.”

-Dr. Jay Raman, MD, FACS – Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

“Management of prostate cancer is certainly not “one size fits all.” There are so many factors to consider when choosing the best treatment options for patients, including disease severity, likelihood of cancer control, a patient’s overall health, and the effects of any treatments on a patient’s lifestyle.”

Dr. Adam Reese, MD – Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine

Launched in 2015, PURC currently brings together 13 urology practices and 170 physicians from across the Mid-Atlantic region (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington, DC) to discuss trends and advances in prostate cancer, identify opportunities for improvement and collaboration, and analyze clinical registry data from over 20,000 cases. As a result of this collaborative, active surveillance of patients has increased, post biopsy ER visits and hospital admissions have decreased, and overall biopsy complications have decreased for patients of PURC practice sites.

“The changes made by the collaborative have been amazing, with our active surveillance rates above the national average and our rapid adoption of the transperineal prostate biopsy technique.”

-Dr. Andres Correa, MD – Fox Chase Cancer Center

To read more from the physicians quoted above, please check out a few of PURC’s Partner Profiles:

Learn more about HCIF’s commitment to improving outcomes for men with prostate cancer here: PURC

Partner Profile: A Conversation with Andres Correa, MD

November 30, 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.

In recognition of November being Men’s Health Awareness Month, HCIF is pleased to feature Dr. Andres Correa, MD, Urologic Oncologist and Assistant Professor of Surgery at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Dr. Correa completed his Urologic Surgery residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Fellowship at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Originally from Cali, Colombia, Dr. Correa completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and earned his medical school degree at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Correa has been a member of the PURC collaborative since starting in May of 2020 and since has been an active participant in the biopsy working group. Within the collaborative, Dr. Correa has explored the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on prostate cancer care across minority populations. As Chair of the biopsy working group, he has championed the adoption of the transperineal prostate biopsy approach, including the development of education resources for collaborative members, and closely tracking practice patterns and outcomes

What led you to urology? What interests you most about urology?

I chose to pursue urology because of the great mentors I had while in medical school in Maryland. I was captured by their unassuming demeanor and easy-going attitude while at the same time tackling complex health conditions. As I progressed through my urology training, I became interested in the management of urological cancers. I was intrigued by the wide spectrum of management strategies for each condition, ranging from observation in some patients to invasive procedures in others.

What is one thing you think people should know about providing prostate cancer care?

The main thing I would like people to know about the treatment of prostate cancer is how important it is to individualize the management strategy for each patient. Prostate cancer treatment has the potential to impact several domains of the patient’s life and without discussing important social factors, the consequences can be significant. An in-depth discussion about the patient’s employment status, dependents under his care, future employment, or financial plans are crucial to limit the impact of the treatment strategy on their livelihood.

“Prostate cancer treatment has the potential to impact several domains of the patient’s life and without discussing important social factors, the consequences can be significant.”


If you could motivate people in your field to tackle one issue or address one challenge, what would it be?

The expansion of treatment options for patients with prostate cancer has also opened the window to increasing financial toxicity. As we move forward with adopting novel therapeutics, we also need to the cognizant of the downstream financial impact these therapies are having on our patients. It is well recognized that financial toxicity leads to an increase in mental health conditions and potentially inferior oncological outcomes as patients are tasked with choosing health over other life necessities.

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

I have been involved in the HCIF partnership since 2020, starting as a member of the prostate biopsy working group. It has been an amazing experience to share ideas within the collaborative and identify potential barriers to achieving our quality metrics. The changes made by the collaborative have been amazing, with our active surveillance rates above the national average and our rapid adoption of the transperineal prostate biopsy technique.

What’s a quote that inspires you in your work?

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones that do more listening than talking” – Bernard M. Baruch. I believe that in the world of medicine, listening is a skill set that I work on daily to make sure I am providing the best care for patients. That means taking time to listen to their stories, their concerns, and their future plans. Only by active listening can you have a patient be a partner in their care.

What are some of your favorite hobbies or things you like to do for fun?

I like spending time with my two sons Mateo (8) and Nico (4). They are very active kids, so we spend a lot of time outdoors playing around. I also like to travel and get to experience new cultures.