Partner Profile: A Conversation with Dr. Jeremy Souder and Eileen Jaskuta

March 29, 2022 | Liz Owens, MS

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 celebration of Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 13 – March 19) this month, we’re excited to feature the Chair and Vice Chair of HCIF’s Clinical Advisory Committee to learn more about what patient safety means to them and what they see as the most important priorities in patient safety today.

Jeremy Souder, MD, MBA, serves as the Associate Chief Medical Officer for Clinical Excellence and Patient Safety Officer at Pennsylvania Hospital of Penn Medicine and serves as Chair of HCIF’s Clinical Advisory Committee.

Eileen Jaskuta, MSHA, BSN, RN, serves as the System Vice President Quality and Patient Safety at Main Line Health and currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Clinical Advisory Committee.

HCIF’s Clinical Advisory Committee is the voluntary expert panel of health care providers and partners from organizations across Southeastern Pennsylvania that identifies the region’s quality and patient safety priorities and provides clinical guidance to HCIF and its Board of Directors. Additionally, the Clinical Advisory Committee plays a key role in advising the Partnership for Patient Care (PPC) and its programs, such as the Health Equity Data Strategy Collaborative, Safe Table, Delaware Valley Patient Safety & Quality Awards, and Leadership Summit.

Both of you serve in key roles on HCIF’s Clinical Advisory Committee that oversees the Partnership for Patient Care (PPC), which just celebrated its 15 year anniversary last year. What do you consider to be the greatest benefits and accomplishments of PPC during your tenure on the Committee?

Dr. Souder: The PPC convenes a broad regional community around the shared mission to make patient care more equitable, safe, and effective. In particular, I feel that the Safe Table Program and the Patient Safety and Quality Award Program create learning communities that foster the development of a shared understanding of challenges, opportunities, and solutions identified by leaders in our region’s healthcare organizations.

Eileen: I have served on the Advisory Committee several times throughout my career, but my most recent tenure has been 5 years.  I have always found that the greatest benefit of PPC is the sharing of best practices in the region and the opportunity to participate in collaboratives to advance quality of care.

This month, we’re celebrating Patient Safety Awareness Week from March 13-19, 2022. Given the many changes and challenges that have been encountered by healthcare systems over the past two years, what do you see as the most important priorities in patient safety today?

Dr. Souder: I see the ongoing workforce challenges, the care for patients simultaneously coping with behavioral health and other medical conditions, the course of the pandemic, and striving for equity in our care outcomes to be the key priorities.

Eileen: The most important priorities in patient safety today really focus on two things in my mind – getting back to the basics and including equity in the work of patient safety.

What is one key thing you’d like the public, or someone not in healthcare, to understand about patient safety and the role it serves in our communities and the healthcare system as a whole?

Dr. Souder: That it depends on people caring for people—trust, mutual respect, concern, and compassion—in 360 degrees, as much as it depends on process improvement, data, and technical improvements.

Eileen: The role that patient safety provides is to be preoccupied with failure to ensure safety for the patients we serve, and to develop interventions to prevent safety events from occurring.

“The most important priorities in patient safety today really focus on two things in my mind – getting back to the basics and including equity in the work of patient safety.”

Eileen Jaskuta

How did you become interested in patient safety?  What are your greatest accomplishments within your field so far (in other words, what are you most proud of)?

Dr. Souder: In my junior year of internal medicine residency, I began to feel disenchanted with my chosen profession. I saw how hard everyone was working, smart people were, how closely they paid attention, and how much they cared…and yet people got hurt, or didn’t get what I wanted us to be able to give them. 

Then I learned about the field of patient safety, and that there was another way to think about caring for people than the one I’d learned in my textbooks, and it gave me hope. I realized that understanding physiology, anatomy, and pathophysiology and pharmacology were necessary, but not sufficient, to achieve the outcomes we all pursue. 

I’m immensely proud that we, as a field, are grappling with challenges of high reliability, continuing with impatient determination to get better at what we do together for patients. I’m also inspired to see that now, when I bring up concepts like systems error, or the “Swiss Cheese Model” on rounds, students always nod their heads in recognition—they understand these core concepts before they get to their clinical training, and I see them engaging more regularly in ways I don’t remember seeing a decade ago. This gives me great hope! 

Eileen: I was always interested in providing great care and patient safety was naturally a part of providing great care. I also had family members impacted by patient safety events and knew that we in healthcare could and should do better by our patients. I think much has been accomplished over the years in patient safety. Transparency and disclosure were critical to those accomplishments because we could learn from one another to make lasting improvements.

I learned about the field of patient safety, and that there was another way to think about caring for people than the one I’d learned in my textbooks, and it gave me hope.

Dr. Jeremy Souder

You have supported HCIF’s work through numerous PPC programs (including but not limited to the Health Equity Data Strategy Collaborative, Delaware Valley Patient Safety and Quality Award Program, and Safe Community) over the years. What do you think makes HCIF unique? What is something you’ve learned through our partnership?

Dr. Souder: What makes HCIF unique is its ability to convene different regional stakeholders around the shared aim of delivering excellent care to everyone in need.

What is a quote that inspires you in your work?

Dr. Souder: “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results that it gets.”

If you are interested in connecting with our partners on LinkedIn, you can find Jeremy Souder here and Eileen Jaskuta here.  

Something that you may not know about Dr. Souder is that his favorite hobbies consist of water sports—whether that’s winter or summer water sports, he enjoys both! Eileen shared that things she likes to do for fun include hiking, learning how to golf, and watching college basketball!


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