Susan Choi Says Farewell to HCIF

July 2022

At the end of June, HCIF said farewell to our Senior Director of Population Health, Susan Choi. Susan joined HCIF almost ten years ago, when the organization was less than half of its current size. With dedication, perseverance, and compassion, Susan shepherded the growth of HCIF’s Population Health portfolio and team, establishing our base of expertise in health communications, chronic disease management and prevention, and community health and social needs.

After 9 years and 9 months at HCIF, it’s time to say goodbye.

When I was asked to contribute a farewell message, the challenge of summing up my time at HCIF and the pressure I would put on myself to say something profound was almost enough for me to refuse. But over the past several weeks, I’ve come to realize that I do have some things to share before I go.

First, I want to take this opportunity to express my deep thanks. HCIF is where I grew up professionally, where I fully became a facilitator and community health champion, identities I hold close. I appreciate the grace with which colleagues and partners guided me, gently corrected me, and changed my assumptions over the past decade. I am so much the wiser, kinder, and richer for it. Many thanks to Kate Flynn for taking a chance on me those many years ago!

Second, I have finally come to fully embrace the fact that the only things worth doing are hard. Bringing people together to compromise and coordinate is hard. Creating systems that center shared humanity and justice is hard. Being asked to do more with fewer resources is hard. Trying to do all of this while feeling emotionally and psychically drained is hard. But whenever I start despairing, I look to a quote by the English writer Zadie Smith pinned to my bulletin board:

“Progress is never permanent, will always be threatened, must be redoubled, restated, and reimagined if it is to survive.”

Seeking progress in the face of serious headwinds posed by (and this is just a partial list) inertia, deeply entrenched bias, exhaustion, fear of the unknown is, in a word, hard—and I can’t think of a worthier way to spend my time and energy. I’m grateful to HCIF for giving me the confidence and perseverance to pursue progress, especially when it’s hard.

Third, I now know that hard things are easier and better done together. My belief in collaboration has deepened into a conviction that it is not simply an anodyne value that all can agree upon, but a muscle that is built through hard work, skilled coaching, and commitment. In this sense, I think of HCIF as the personal trainer for all of our partners, and I feel honored to have been part of the training staff for so long.

I believe that the power, energy, comfort, and inspiration we draw from each other by exercising our collective collaboration muscle are what will enable southeastern PA to grow stronger and healthier in the years ahead. I end with the hope that we can all continue to do the hard things, together.

Susan will be joining the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. While we will greatly miss the strength of her contributions and her character, we wish her all the best in her professional journey. Please join us in wishing Susan the fondest farewell!

HCIF is Seeking a Director

January 26, 2022

The Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF) is seeking a Director for several healthcare improvement programs.  This position is responsible for designing, delivering, and evaluating certain HCIF quality improvement, population health, and health equity programs under the supervision of the Vice President of Clinical Improvement and in collaboration with HCIF’s clinical advisors, partners, and other stakeholders.  The role provides support for HCIF’s overall healthcare improvement project portfolio and other HCIF programs as requested. 

Candidates for consideration must have a Master’s degree in a health-related field.  Individuals must have at least five years of healthcare experience in Quality and Patient Safety, Process Improvement, Health Equity, Patient Experience, or other related fields in a hospital or other healthcare setting. Candidates must have experience in project management and multi-organizational initiatives resulting in improved healthcare outcomes with the ability to apply quality improvement methodologies.  Candidates must possess strong written and oral communication skills, relationship-building skills, and participate with collaborative teams.  Working knowledge of clinical data registries, survey design and analysis tools, graphic presentation and infographic platforms, and project management tools is preferred. The successful candidate must excel at project management, time management, and the ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously.  The salary range for this position is $90,000-$100,000 with a generous benefits package.

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

The Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF) ( was officially established in 1980. Philadelphia-based HCIF ( is a nonprofit organization that drives superior health care through collaboration and shared learning between stakeholders. Our vision is healthier communities through collaboration and shared learning.  HCIF’s approach engages multi-stakeholder resources to implement solutions that no market participant could achieve individually.  Since its inception, HCIF has been recognized as an outstanding example of how advances in quality care can be achieved through large-scale collaboration. Our current strategic priority is to improve health equity and we have an organizational commitment to anti-racism.

The Board of Directors is composed of leaders representing health systems, health payers, the business community, and the public health sector; plus two consumer representatives.  HCIF maintains a staff of eleven (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.

President Profile: Welcome Wendy Nickel!

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 or connect with her on Linkedin – please join the entire HCIF staff in welcoming her to the team!

HCIF Names Wendy Nickel New President

PHILADELPHIA (May 11, 2020) – The Health Care Improvement Foundation, a nonprofit focused on improving quality and access of patient care through large-scale collaboration, has named Wendy Nickel as their new president.

Nickel, a health care professional with more than 20 years of experience, succeeds Kate Flynn, who held the position for 12 years. Flynn has overseen exponential growth at HCIF. Founded with a focus on improving patient safety, HCIF today leads clinical and population health initiatives under Flynn’s guidance. During her tenure, she has grown the size of the team, the scope of projects and, correspondingly, the number and diversity of funding sources for HCIF.

“Looking to the future, HCIF will be able to move Southeastern Pennsylvania forward as a healthier and safer region to live in, as well as collaborate with other organizations in statewide improvement,” says Flynn. “We’re excited for what’s to come under Wendy’s leadership. With greater awareness of the importance of population health, we’re hoping to be able to lend a hand in connecting and shepherding health care organizations to forge a path ahead.”

With experience in senior leadership roles in hospitals, health professional associations and policy, Nickel aims to focus on bringing more attention to the issue of quality public health access in our community.

“My vision is to expand on everything that Kate has put into HCIF,” says Nickel. “We’re doing the important work: Bringing people together when no one else can or will. We have an opportunity to expand our work beyond Pennsylvania and across the country. And considering the ongoing coronavirus crisis, we have the ability to address the myriad quality, safety and population health challenges that will impact care both now and in the future.”

In her most recent role as Vice President of Prevention for the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, Nickel led efforts to improve colorectal cancer screening and awareness in the Greater Philadelphia area to be replicated across the nation.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, HCIF is well-positioned to make a difference in the regional community and beyond. The organization has been working on community health and safety initiatives for over a decade and has the knowledge, experience and connections to take a more significant leadership role in health care improvement.

“We know how to bring the experts together. We can tap the best minds in Pennsylvania to work together and find solutions to our biggest public health challenges,” says Steve Wray, the chair of the HCIF Board of Directors.

Nickel earned her undergraduate and Master of Public Health degrees at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She has previously held roles at the American College of Physicians, the Society of Hospital Medicine, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Albert Einstein Medical Center, among others.

About the Health Care Improvement Foundation  

The Health Care Improvement Foundation is an independent, 501(c)(3) organization that specializes in project management, group facilitation, strategy development, training and coaching, measurement and analytics, and program evaluation for health care initiatives. HCIF brings together multiple stakeholders to implement solutions that could not have been reached individually. Since its inception, HCIF has been recognized as an outstanding example of how advances in quality care can be achieved through large-scale collaboration. HCIF is supported in its mission by contributions and grants from health care providers, health insurance plans, government agencies and various foundations.

Sitha Dy, HCIF’s PURC Intern Completes her Doctorate of Nursing Dissertation!

September 12, 2018

Sitha Dy, HCIF’s PURC intern recently completed her Doctorate of Nursing dissertation presentation and defense on active surveillance at Thomas Jefferson University.  You can read a short recap of her dissertation as well as view her poster presentation below.  We want to thank Sitha for all her work at HCIF and congratulate her on this wonderful achievement! 

The practice inquiry research project was aimed at understanding and characterizing the utilization of active surveillance as a treatment option for men with low-risk prostate cancer among providers participating in the Pennsylvania Urologic Regional Collaborative (PURC). The Health Care Improvement Foundation (HCIF), the coordinating center for PURC, provided a hub of over 100 urology providers across nine counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and over 7,000 urologic patients. The design of this research was a combination of a descriptive survey study and an analysis of the PURC data registry. An electronic survey was distributed to PURC providers to seek information in regard to their active surveillance practice. An analysis of the PURC data registry information was completed to characterize how PURC providers were following patients on active surveillance.

Active Surveillance