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Quality Enhancement Research Initiative

QUERI E-news
June 2021

Expanding and Enhancing Implementation Learning
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QUERI Learning Hub Helps VA Leaders Communicate the Urgency and Value of Their Work

Kyler Godwin, PhD, MPH

Kyler Godwin, PhD, MPH

Led by Kyler Godwin, PhD, MPH, the Leading Healthcare Improvement (LHI) learning hub employs interactive learning activities to train frontline providers and leaders in leadership principles and improvement strategies. Dr. Godwin is part of HSR&D’s Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety (IQuESt) in Houston, TX, and is the Director of VA Quality Scholars. Her research targets interprofessional education and training, quality improvement, and implementation science.

In a recent interview with CIDER’s QUERI Dissemination Coordinator, Diane Hanks, MA, Dr. Godwin spoke about what her learning hub offers, why it’s important, and offers some feedback from their clients that highlights their success.

Please give us an overall description of your Learning Hub.

The “Leading Healthcare Improvement (LHI)” implementation learning hub educates and trains frontline providers, operational staff, and healthcare teams in a unified methodology derived from evidence-based strategies for quality improvement and leadership skills for change management. The training consists of six 90-minute synchronous modules that are interactive and include small group discussions with facilitators during each module. Modules are typically offered every three weeks, with time in-between for learners to apply teachings from the modules to their projects.

Your first module is on creating a sense of urgency. During the pandemic, the urgency was palpable, and everyone was focused on COVID. Was it – or is it harder to get people to focus on other issues that are urgent, such as the opioid epidemic or suicide prevention? Do you address this in your module?

It has been difficult this year for improvement leaders to engage stakeholders on urgent issues not related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The need to engage stakeholders on all quality-related issues is testament to why communication skills are so important in healthcare improvement – throughout the training program we highlight these skills and provide tools that help leaders communicate the urgency and value of their work persuasively and succinctly to stakeholders.

Module four is about celebrating victories. How did you identify this as a need?

Implementation projects will have many victories throughout that should be celebrated, but leaders and teams often overlook these. The scientific literature taken from industrial/organizational psychology, and social psychology on goal setting and motivation, clearly describes the importance of recognizing victories as a powerful tool for enhancing motivation. It’s important to set and celebrate both short-term and long-term goals to gain momentum and increase morale. We can ensure smaller victories are celebrated by teaching learners to plan for victories in advance. 

Industrial/Organizational psychology focuses on the behavior of employees in the workplace. Social psychology is the study of how people’s thoughts, feelings, beliefs, intentions and goals are constructed within a social context by real or imagined interactions with others. They describe how recognizing victories is a powerful motivator.

Who are your stakeholders/collaborators?

We have collaborated with the VA Quality Scholars program, the National TeleStroke Program, the National Patient Priorities Care program funded through VA’s Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care (GEC), and HSR&D through its Coordinating Hub to Promote Research Optimizing Veteran-centric EHR Networks (PROVEN).

How have people responded to the training?

We have received very positive feedback on the training. To date, 141 VA stakeholders have completed the training, and 27 are currently enrolled. Highlights of this feedback include the following statements.

Participating in LHI [Leading Healthcare Improvement] helped me identify strategies to improve our program processes. Most importantly, LHI tools streamline a lot of the work for us so we can move forward quickly implementing much needed improvements. I really enjoyed the course.”

This was amazing. Thank you so much for tailoring it to our group’s needs.

I learned a new way to approach a project by celebrating small successes along the way. I like that it was presented in the context of the PDSA [Plan-Do-Study-Act] QI [quality improvement] method because it reinforced learning and application of this method, while giving a tangible process/structure in which small wins/learnings are possible.”

Really enjoyed and needed this – can never stop learning about teamwork, team building, team conflict, how to hire or assemble a core team – it’s timeless and I think it changes as we learn more about behavior. So glad we had this learning!

How does this type of training help VA provide better healthcare for Veterans?

This training fosters the implementation of best practices. Leading Healthcare Improvement combines critical interpersonal skills with the technical skills needed to make sustainable change in any environment. It also develops translatable leadership skills in people who may not think of themselves as leaders.

Making all this possible is Dr. Godwin’s LHI Learning Hub team, which includes: Kelley Arredondo, PhD; Alexandra Caloudas, PhD; Anthony Ecker, PhD; Molly Horstman, MD, MS; Jade Jennings, MPH; and Jacky Shahin, MA.

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