Problem-solving classes lead to real improvements In Adolescent Health Initiative

July 28, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Strategy & Leadership

The Adolescent Health Initiative (AHI) works to transform the health care landscape to optimize adolescent and young adult health and well-being. AHI provides customer-focused, youth-driven and innovative approaches to improving adolescent care through coaching and technical assistance, implementing quality improvement models across the country, resource and tool development and hosting educational events.

They currently work with primary care, school-based health and youth-serving organizations across 40 states providing training, resources and technical assistance to improve adolescent-centered care.

One of their main interventions includes data collection on a variety of metrics, including performance data mostly related to adolescent-specific HEDIS measures. Sites that AHI work with are asked to provide this data on a worksheet supplied at three different points in time. In the past, they have had issues such as sites not turning in their data, partially completed data that cannot be compared, and data that has clear outliers.

AHI program specialist, Valerie Gavrila, and lead program specialist, Kaleigh Cornelison, attended the Quality Department’s Practicing Healthcare Improvement course and then went on to participate in the Advancing Healthcare Improvement course, to help them figure out how to increase the quality of the data in order to effectively analyze it and work toward real improvements.

“As we went through the classes, we realized what we thought was our problem, was not the problem we needed to be working on!” Cornelison said.

By using tools taught in the classes, they were able to set targets and make an informed plan for improvement. They found ways to make the data collection process easier for clients. They have also set goals to revise their internal strategies to provide sufficient coaching and reminders for data collection, as well as looking for quality “red flags” when receiving data to ensure it is high quality. They will be working through these strategies at an upcoming retreat.

Both Gavrila and Cornelison said that the reaction from other internal staff members has been very positive: “They are relieved that we have taken this on and are happy this is moving forward. One comment was ‘Why weren’t we doing this before?’”

The pair acknowledged that we all get so caught up in our daily work, that it is hard to make the time for making improvements. By taking the classes, it helped them to set aside dedicated time to work on their problem.

Using the A3 problem-solving process was helpful, but the Continuous Improvement coaches “really got our wheels turning,” they said. “We usually jump to solutions. The process really pushed us to take the time and methodically work through the problem. Coaches, Kevin DeHority (in the PHcI class) and Jamie MacLaren (in the AHcI class) helped us peel back the layers, challenged us, and took the time to understand our work.”

Gavrila and Cornelison are now sending all their staff to the classes. “It’s a good use of your time to get to the root of your problem so you know what to work on. Beware of jumping to solutions!”

As AHI strives to provide compelling and impactful services to health care professionals to increase the quality of adolescent care, the metrics are essential in being accountable for their own work and may lead to future changes in their intervention to specifically target performance measures, such as well-visit rates, chlamydia screening, depression screening and HPV vaccinations. And what this means in the end is that adolescents will be better served.

For more information on the Continuous Improvement classes offered in the Quality Department, visit the Quality Training Pathway page.