Healthcare Quality and Improvement is Focus of New Student Club
Members of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) Open School Chapter at Lehigh University – now an official student club – aim to improve health and healthcare by promoting process and quality improvement in the Lehigh community and beyond. They will disseminate knowledge related to quality, patient safety, and process improvement at Lehigh and prepare the next generation of professionals across a variety of health disciplines.
“So many Lehigh students hope to get into the healthcare field. Knowledge about quality and patient safety is critical, no matter whether they want to become a basic medicine scientist, clinician or a healthcare administrator,” says Xinliang “Albert” Liu, an associate professor in the College of Health and IHI Chapter faculty advisor.
IHI is a global, non-profit organization whose mission is to “improve health and healthcare worldwide,” according to IHI.org. IHI Lehigh Chapter is open to all students and its chapter members receive resources to foster learning through online courses and certifications says Emily Grace, Lehigh IHI Chapter president.
Grace is a junior undergraduate student from Falls Church, Virginia, pursuing a dual Bachelor’s degree in economics and population health.
“I am very interested in care quality and process improvement, so I reached out to Prof. Liu, as well as Lehigh’s club affairs office, to start a chapter,” Grace says.
Liu says the Lehigh IHI Chapter will “spark interest in quality and quality improvement” using short courses, case studies and exercises.
“Chapter officers are in the process of obtaining the basic certificate in quality and safety, offered by the IHI Open School, to ensure that they are leaders in the learning process,” Liu explains.
“Additionally, the chapter will create opportunities for students to apply their knowledge of patient safety and quality improvement and lead impactful projects within the Lehigh community and across the Lehigh Valley,” Liu says.
IHI Chapter Projects Chair Kareem Hargrove is heading a collaboration with the Lehigh University Health and Wellness Center to “revamp the inventory management process,” a timely first project as the center moves into new office space, Liu says. This project will explore and suggest ways to address lingering supply chain management hardships created during the coronavirus pandemic.
Hargrove, from Stamford, Connecticut, is a first-year undergraduate pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in community and global health with minors in Spanish and international relations.
Hargrove says he will be responsible for researching potential projects, contacting organizations, scheduling meetings with representatives and serving as the point person between the Chapter and local organizations.
“By collaborating with the Wellness Center we can help propose and guide solutions to the problems [they’ve] already identified” as well as work with them to discover other issues, Hargrove says.
The team is currently exploring software products to help streamline inventory and stocking at the Wellness Center with the goal of shortening time for these tasks so that the “found” time can be used in other more patient-centric ways.
In addition to the Wellness Center, Hargrove will facilitate projects with relevant organizations across the Lehigh Valley. Liu says DeSales Free Clinic is another potential partner organization.
Aligned with the goal to create opportunities for growth and experience, members will learn about healthcare industry careers.
Hargrove says his goal is to assemble a “cohort of students” across a variety of interest areas and disciplines “by providing a hands-on and immersive experience in creating health solutions.”
“We hope to raise awareness of quality and patient safety in the Lehigh community in general, not just [among] chapter members,” says Leighanna Moskos, 19.
Moskos is a sophomore from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, pursuing a dual Bachelor’s degree in population health and accounting. She says Lehigh’s IHI Chapter provides the means for student members to become certified in patient safety and healthcare quality improvement; “…which gives students good experience and is also a resume booster.”
Moskos says the Chapter will help Lehigh students learn about careers in the healthcare industry other than becoming a physician.
“As the recruiter for the chapter, I [try] to get a wide variety of people engaged at Lehigh. By bringing in students from different areas, the IHI Chapter [can] offer different perspectives on the projects that we work on,” she says.