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 wnickel@hcifonline.org 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.

Welcome HCIF’s Summer Data & Research Intern, Eliza Brosgol!

Eliza Brosgol, a rising senior at Haverford College, has joined HCIF’s Clinical Improvement team to serve as the Summer Data & Research Intern. Eliza is an Economics major and French minor at Haverford and has previously interned in the healthcare department at Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office last summer. One of Eliza’s favorite courses at Haverford was an elective Health Economics course, which provided her an informative overview of the U.S. healthcare system and allowed her to learn about economics in an applied setting. Additionally, Eliza studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark last fall and was exposed to the drastic differences in the Danish and American healthcare systems, which furthered her interest in pursuing an internship directly in the healthcare sphere. At HCIF this summer, Eliza will assist on the Pennsylvania Urology Regional Collaborative (PURC) and CPR Ready projects in addition to managing the organization’s social media accounts. She also hopes to develop a greater understanding of the components that make up the U.S. healthcare system and discover which aspects are of particular interest to her. Additionally, she also wishes to understand the ways in which someone with a background in economics can bring value to a nonprofit organization that targets healthcare improvement initiatives. Lastly, Eliza plays midfield for the Haverford College Women’s Lacrosse team and will continue to pursue a career after graduating that combines her interest in healthcare, business, and economics.

Welcome HCIF’s PURC Intern, Diksha Ramnani

October 2, 2018

Diksha Ramnani, an MPH student at Drexel University, has joined the PURC team through March 2019.  Diksha will support PURC’s working groups, especially the Active Surveillance Working Group where she will be analyzing patterns and indicators of reclassification for prostate cancer patients placed on active surveillance.

Public health’s emphasis on improving population health through a preventative perspective is very appealing to Diksha.  Her interest in public health started during her undergraduate career as the field provided a practical avenue for blending her two primary interests, biology and anthropology.  Diksha’s favorite classes at Drexel thus far include Epidemiology and Biostatistics.  She is also looking forward to her future coursework in infectious diseases.  Following graduation, Diksha hopes to work as a health data analyst at a non-profit or health department.

Diksha loves being outdoors participating in activities such as jogging, hiking, biking, or kayaking.  She can be found on the Schuylkill River trail every weekend, rain or shine.