Partner Profile: A Conversation with Vic Caraballo, MD

May 27, 2021

In celebration of the Partnership for Patient Care’s (PPC) 15th Anniversary, the Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF) is featuring our partners on our website and in our monthly newsletter. As a long-standing collaborator with HCIF, we would like to take this opportunity to highlight the work accomplished by Independence Blue Cross, HCIF, and the region’s health care organizations over the past 15 years through PPC. The intent of these profiles is to give our readers a better understanding of the breadth of work of the Partnership for Patient Care, as well as an introduction to our innovative and valuable partners with whom we we are fortunate to work.

For this month, we are delighted to feature Victor Caraballo, MD, MBA, Vice President of Quality Management, Independence Blue Cross. In his role, Dr. Caraballo is responsible for all activities associated with ensuring health plan compliance with the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) accreditation standards. Dr. Caraballo is also actively involved in leading Health Equity activities in Independence as well as across many stakeholder organizations.  Dr. Caraballo holds both undergraduate and medical degrees from Brown University and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is board certified in Emergency Medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Dr. Caraballo is a longstanding supporter of HCIF and currently serves on the HCIF Board, Clinical Advisory Committee and is an advisor to our Health Equity Data Strategy, Pennsylvania Urologic Regional Collaborative (PURC), and Partnership for Patient Care programs. We conducted an interview with him to learn more about his experience with the Partnership for Patient Care program:

Independence Blue Cross supports the Partnership for Patient Care (PPC), which is a unique collaboration between a payer and providers to jointly fund quality and patient safety improvement initiatives and has been recognized as a national model. In celebration of 15 years, what do you consider the greatest accomplishments of PPC since its launch in 2006?

The Partnership for Patient Care program, led by HCIF has been so important. The creation of this unique collaboration has been the most impressive feat, in my opinion. Starting with the regional medication safety program and moving on to hospital acquired infections, readmissions, and more recently, Safe Table, the ability to address these challenging issues and create real and lasting change has been invaluable.

In addition to your involvement in PPC, you have supported HCIF’s work by serving on the Board of Directors, the Clinical Advisory Committee, and as a Champion for several programs. What do you think makes HCIF unique?

What makes HCIF unique is that it is a neutral convener, bringing together various stakeholders throughout the healthcare marketplace.  But HCIF also understands the market and the intricacies of healthcare, as well as the dynamics of our region.  I have been involved in a number of HCIF’s programs over the years and have appreciated its unique ability to maintain neutrality, while helping to solve very complex healthcare challenges in our community.

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

Experiencing the value of building coalitions is really unparalleled. Being able to see this in action and motion over the years has been incredible to witness – it’s very clear that we’re stronger when working collectively. We’re all connected in our healthcare ecosystem and the importance of working across stakeholders has been very instructive. No institution is an island – tackling healthcare problems together shows the power of coalitions.

PPC’s vision statement is “to be the safest region in the country.” As HCIF celebrates its 15th year, what are some of the most significant benefits to participation in PPC?

Collaboration with peers across the region is one of the most significant benefits of the PPC program. Working through this unique coalition allows individual institutions to have a seat at the table to solve real challenges. Peer conversations that are so critical and networking with colleagues are other benefits that comes to mind. The biggest benefit is working together. So much of the healthcare system is interconnected. For example, if you think of our readmissions work – this just isn’t a problem that can be solved working in your own bubble.  PPC allows for interchange of ideas and best practices.

As HCIF and Independence Blue Cross turn to/look forward to the next 15 years of PPC, what do you think is the next big frontier in healthcare for the Philadelphia/SEPA region?

The next frontier is about being aware of critical issues such as health equity, and being able to mitigate the drives of health inequity. We need to address health care holistically by evaluating social determinants of health. Many players will need to work together in a way that improves health and accrues to everyone’s benefit.

You’ve been at Independence Blue Cross for19 years. How did you become interested in quality improvement and/or patient safety?  How has your background as an Emergency Department physician influenced your interest in quality improvement and/or patient safety?

First, I always wanted to serve an underserved population and working in the emergency department allowed me to do this. What got me interested in quality and safety was my training in emergency medicine. Working in the emergency department (ED) requires a very process-driven and modular approach to care, while also recognizing the importance of treating the individual. Working in the ED allows you the option of reflecting back at the end of the day to see how I could deliver care in a better way.

What has been your personal proudest accomplishment within the quality/patient safety field so far?

There have been a lot of different accomplishments, but problem-solving some very challenging issues tops that list. I am also very proud of my work with the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), serving on a number of committees.  Recently, I have been working to lead Independence Blue Cross’ (IBC) COVID 19 program.  COVID has really shone a light on the issues of inequities in healthcare and vaccine access.  I am very proud of the leadership IBC is taking to address health equity and integrating this into our quality and safety programs.

What is a quote that inspires you in your work?

“A work that aspires, however humbly, to the condition of art should carry its justification in every line. And art itself may be defined as a single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe, by bringing to light the truth, manifold and one, underlying its every aspect.”

I have found this to be profound and inspiring – especially the importance of having lofty goals and integrity in your work. Everything you do should be of excellence and accrue to your ultimate goal.

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

I love music, reading, and cooking Mediterranean-inspired food and Italian cuisine.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I am a long-time environmentalist, especially growing up in the 70s. Being a city boy, I always found it important to have a connection to nature. The 1970s were a time when the environmental and climate issues came into national consciousness, and I was especially moved by the commercial showing a Native American man crying due to the mistreatment of nature. I explored the ideas of alternative sources of energy when I was a kid and won an essay contest from the White House with President Jimmy Carter.


 

Vic Caraballo
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