May 20, 2020
Wendy Nickel, MPH, has been named HCIF’s new president. Wendy most recently served as Vice President of Prevention for the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, and brings over 20 years of experience as a health care professional to the role. Below, she shares her public health interests and goals for the future.
How did you become interested in healthcare quality, and what are you most passionate about within the field?
Before working in hospitals, I worked in healthcare consulting and disease management for an insurance company. In both of these roles, I found I had an affinity for how systems of care could improve the quality of care patients received. I truly found my calling when I joined a hospital in an underserved community to serve as the Director of Patient Satisfaction. That experience facilitated my understanding of how to develop effective practices to improve the overall experience of care and to use data to evaluate it. However, I also had the unique opportunity to engage regularly with patients and healthcare professionals and understand the individual factors that impact patient outcomes. I was educated about quality improvement through this experience and used this knowledge to develop patient satisfaction improvement programs at the hospital, resulting in statistically significant improvements based on patient survey data. More importantly, however, I learned that all patients and families deserve the right to high quality care, no matter their socioeconomic status or ZIP code of origin. This is why I find quality improvement so compelling – it presents opportunities to create a level playing field regardless of the types of resources an institution has or community it serves. I am most passionate about eliminating healthcare disparities and believe that utilizing quality improvement techniques and methodologies, as well as patient-centered care, we can move the needle on the most vexing challenges we face in healthcare today.
How does your past experience align with some of HCIF’s specific project areas?
I have been working in quality improvement, patient safety, patient experience, and public health for the past 18 years. My past program work has included improving: transitions of care, care for individuals with diabetes, prevention of colorectal cancer, and health literacy. Many of these topics have been addressed by HCIF’s work, which is something that attracted me to the organization. My experience has taught me that improvement only occurs when there is collaboration between patients and healthcare professionals and a deep commitment to change. HCIF’s model uses collaboration to motivate and engage stakeholders and very closely aligns with my own personal beliefs for how to achieve high quality care.
What are your greatest professional accomplishments so far?
In each role I have held over the years, I have been proud of many accomplishments. However, two stand out to me the most. First, one of the organizations in which I was responsible for quality and patient safety won a prestigious award for national innovation for making improvements in a variety of topics. Second, I established a center for patient partnership at one of the largest physician membership organizations in the country. The goal of this center was to develop programs and policies to promote patient/clinician partnership in healthcare. In addition to developing a set of principles to support this partnership, my team helped to inculcate patient-centeredness into every aspect of the organization’s programming, from education, to policy-making, to development of clinical guidelines. Patients are now partners at every level of the organization. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how proud I have been to work with stellar team members, managers, and colleagues over the years who have inspired me and propelled me forward.
What are you most looking forward to as you step into the role of President? What’s your vision for the future of HCIF?
I am looking forward to so many things as I step into the role of President. First, I am excited to work with the exceptionally talented team at HCIF. I knew a couple of the staff and Board members from past professional experience and have always had the utmost respect for the organization. Second, I look forward to building upon the incredible foundation that Kate has established in order to provide the highest quality care to the Delaware Valley and beyond. There are some exciting opportunities that HCIF has the ability and experience to tackle in the near term including care challenges associated with COVID-19, addressing the myriad issues associated with opioid use disorder, and leveraging healthcare technology, such as telehealth. My vision for HCIF in the future is that we establish a variety of new, unique collaborations to achieve our goals, continue to diversify our program portfolio, and gain increased recognition as a regional and national leader in healthcare quality. I have some big shoes to fill, but supported by our capable staff, believe that these goals are clearly in our sights.
What’s a quote that inspires you in your work?
“I raise up my voice-not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard…” –Malala Yousafzai
Wendy’s favorite pastimes include running, exercising, gardening, attending live music events and concerts, and traveling. Her favorite place she has visited so far is Bali, and she would love to take a trip to Dubai someday. You can reach Wendy at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on Linkedin – please join the entire HCIF staff in welcoming her to the team!