Massachusetts Association for Healthcare Quality (MAHQ)

Winter 2016 Newsletter

President's message

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. I wish you a healthy, happy, and safe 2016.

The Board of MAHQ is putting together a busy calendar of activities over the next few months. I particularly want to draw your attention to the annual business meeting. Because we are offering a 2-day CPHQ Review Course on May 4 and 5, we need to make some changes to the annual business meeting. This year we will be holding a virtual meeting! The meeting will be a web-based meeting on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 at noon. It will still be a live event and you will have the opportunity to interact directly with the members of the Board of Directors. All members will receive an email message with a registration link. There is no cost to attend the meeting; registration simply enables us to send you the log-in information. Please mark your calendar to attend the annual business meeting and support MAHQ.

Also, don’t forget to renew your membership by going to Massachusetts Association for Healthcare Quality.


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Treasurer Report

The current assets of MAHQ as of Dec. 31, 2015 are $39,720.29. Total income for 2015 is $26,452.23. This income was generated by program fees, membership dues, fundraising, and bank account interest. Total expenses for this same time period were $21,063.16. MAHQ expenses are related to administrative, program, operational, networking and marketing expenditures. The net income for 2015 is $5,389.07.

MAHQ raised $264 dollars from our basket raffles. This money and earnings from the Annual Meeting went to fund two Professional Grants awarded during National Healthcare Quality Week in October. This year’s recipients are Rita Estey and Katherine Nordstrom. They both plan to use the grant funds to pursue their CPHQ. Congratulations!

For complete details quarterly financial statements are posted for your review at

Respectfully submitted
Anne Boffa, MPH, CPHQ

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Patient Experience, Patient Satisfaction – What’s the difference?

Hospitals have been tracking patient satisfaction for years but the data never held much weight in comparison to clinical indicators. That began to change in October 2012 when a provision of the Affordable Care Act resulted in 1% of Medicare payments being withheld from hospitals and the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Services (HCAHPS) survey was instituted. Now only hospitals with high patient satisfaction scores can earn that money back. In fiscal year 2014, the pot of money withheld topped a billion dollars (Kaiser Health News).

With the advent of HCAHPS, the focus began to shift from subjective patient satisfaction questions such as “How satisfied were you with the time the physician spent with you?” to measuring the patients’ perceptions of care. The HCAHPS questions assess the patient experience and address the behaviors patients observe and therefore are more objective. By contrast, in patient satisfaction questionnaires, patients’ rate care instead of reporting on objective experiences, and those ratings can be more easily influenced by prior expectations that are a function of age, socioeconomic status or other factors.

This change raised the bar for satisfaction scores. The range of responses for questions went from “very poor” to “very good” to “never” to “always.” Hospitals only get credit for the top box score “always.” Instead of asking patients to rate how well something was done, they are now asked to rate how often it was done. If just one staff person does not meet the expectation, the rating by the patient may not be “always. “ Consistency is critical and that presents a challenge to organizations with thousands of employees who work 24/7.

To achieve consistency, an organization needs to focus on more than just the scores. When organizations emphasize HCAHPS scores, they are behaving like thermometers when they should be acting like thermostats. Leaders need to set the direction and the temperature and not just merely measure it.

Making patient experience part of the culture, rather than a string of initiatives, is critical. It takes a focus on employee engagement as well as patient/family engagement. The organizations that have been successful, such as Cleveland Clinic and the University of California Los Angeles, consider patient-centeredness as the way they do business.

In closing, I believe the way to better quality in healthcare requires a deeper approach toward Patient- and Family-Centered Care (PFCC). By understanding what patients and families value and engaging them on both the individual and organizational level, we will improve the patient experience and ultimately satisfaction. We will continue to fall short if we merely “teach to the test.” Having engaged staff and leaders who view PFCC and patient experience in the same context as quality, safety and financial performance will result in a better, more profitable healthcare system for all.

Eileen Hession Laband, MBA, RN, NE-BC, CPHQ


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Program Committee Update

The Program Committee has been very busy creating educational opportunities for our members. MAHQ scheduled three webinars with the first held on January 13, 2016. It featured Kristin Erekson and Katie Litterer from Boston Children’s Hospital, who provided a webinar entitled, “Engaging Families in Building a Health Literate Organization.” This webinar was well received and had over 22 listeners.

The second webinar will be held on February 23, 2016 and Caroline Moore and Barbara Sarnoff Lee from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center will present, “Patient & Family Advisors at the Forefront of Provider Education.”

Lachlan Forrow, MD, Assoc. Professor of Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center will close the series with the webinar entitled, “Care of Patients with Serious Advancing Illness- the state-of-the-art and challenges in implementing quality “metrics” in ways that can help all of us improve” on April 6, 2016.

This year MAHQ will be offering the Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) Review Course, which will be held on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 and Thursday, May 5, 2016 at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Massachusetts. The course instructors will be two MAHQ Board members, Nancy Ryll and Bert Thurlo-Walsh. Registration is open.

Due to the extensive educational offerings, MAHQ will be hosting a virtual Annual Business Meeting which will be held on April 13th at noon. Registration will open in the near future. The face-to-face Annual Business Meeting will return in 2017 along with an annual conference event.

Be sure to mark your calendars with these upcoming dates! MAHQ will be sending out e-mail announcements for each of these programs.


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Membership Committee Update

The Membership Committee hosted a networking event “Making the Most of Your Linked In Profile” this past Fall that was both educational and fun. Director of Marketing; Deanna Dwyer led the social media learning night. We learned how to use LinkedIn for professional and career development including networking other quality professionals, recruitment and keeping up with trends and news in healthcare. This is what some of the attendees had to say:

  • Lots of good information
  • Very informative, well done
  • I'm an active Linked-In user and I still learned a number of new things to do with my profile. Thanks
  • Informative and enjoyable
  • Good topic choice and speaker!!
  • Wonderful program-motivated me to finally join Linked-In

Our 2016 Membership Drive is well under way! Take advantage of the numerous join and attend offerings at the beginning of this year. Please renew your membership to benefit from the continued educational offerings and/or networking events by going to:

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Committee Member Spotlight
by Eileen Hession Laband, MBA, RN, NE-BC, CPHQ

This month our Committee Member Spotlight shines on Debra Blyth-Wilk, JD, RN, CPHQ, who is on the MAHQ Board of Directors and also serves on the Membership Committee.

Debra is both a Registered Nurse and an Attorney by training. Her current role is the Director of Quality and Compliance at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown. She is also the Director of Quality and Performance Improvement for the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network which is comprised of five inpatient facilities and 23 outpatient sites.

EHL: How did you get interested in a career in healthcare?

DB-W: I have been interested in healthcare since a very young age. My father is a pharmacist, and my mother, a Registered Nurse. Sometimes I used to accompany my mother who worked nights in a nursing home. I loved talking with the patients and helping them. It was then I decided that I would like to pursue a career in nursing.

EHL: Who has been influential in your career in healthcare?

DB-W: I have had many mentors in my thirty years in healthcare. These mentors have been instrumental in helping me move my career forward. I am now trying to give back by acting as a mentor to younger nurses and those interested in learning about quality improvement and risk management.

EHL: What is your favorite part of your job?

DB-W: The most enjoyable part of my job is the education aspect. I teach performance improvement to my colleagues in the Spaulding Network in a program known as CLIP (Collaborative Learning Improvement Program) that I co-developed. CLIP incorporates performance improvement methodology with both leadership and change management principles. The CLIP program has helped us standardize performance improvement within our network.

I also teach at the Mass General Institute of Health Professions in both the Nursing and Physician Assistant programs. I am also involved with the IMPACT Program which teaches the value of interdisciplinary communication.

EHL: Why did you get involved in MAHQ?

DB-W: I became involved in MAHQ so that I could meet professionals with similar interests, and to take advantage of educational opportunities to maintain my Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ)) credential. For the past year, I have had the pleasure of co-chairing the Membership Committee with Cheryl Hafela. Working on the Membership Committee has been terrific as we seek to find innovative ways to describe the benefits of MAHQ membership to the community of Quality Improvement specialists in and around the Massachusetts area.

EHL: How has your involvement benefitted you?

DB-W: Being a part of MAHQ has provided me with a network of like-minded professionals. My MAHQ colleagues are an ongoing source of support and knowledge on a regular basis. With a broad spectrum of different backgrounds and experience, there is usually someone among the group with similar challenges that I can connect and share knowledge with.

EHL: Where do you think healthcare in Massachusetts is headed?

DB-W: I’m really proud that Massachusetts was first in the national to require mandatory health insurance. As such, we have been and will continue to be a model for the Affordable Care Act and health insurance reform as a whole. I do see an increasing amount of scrutiny in the post-acute sector, of which Spaulding is a part. We are just starting to have public reporting of certain quality and outcome measures in the Inpatient Rehabilitation setting. Pay for Performance will soon be on the horizon, as we move toward aligning incentives across the continuum of care.

EHL: What do you like to do in your spare time?

DB-W: In my spare time, I love to volunteer with my therapy dog Daphne. The patients at Spaulding love her, and find comfort as many of them are here for several weeks and are missing their own pets. It is one of the most rewarding experiences I can describe.

EHL: Thank you for your time and your service to MAHQ.

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NAHQ Press Release

The Rising Quality Star award celebrates a dynamic NAHQ member who displays significant participation in the association and the profession to promote healthcare quality.

This year’s winner is the Vice President of Quality & Safety at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Massachusetts, Bert A. Thurlo-Walsh, RN, MM, CPHQ

He has served as the President of the Massachusetts Association for Healthcare Quality and currently serves on the NAHQ Education Team. He received his Masters in Management degree from Cambridge College and is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ).

Rising Quality Star Award— “It is an honor and privilege to be receiving the Rising Quality Star Award from the National Association for Healthcare Quality. Being part of NAHQ has afforded me the opportunity to grow as a healthcare quality professional and leader through active participation at the State Leaders meetings and on NAHQ teams. In addition, both NAHQ and the Massachusetts association have provided me the opportunity to work with some of the most talented healthcare quality professionals nationally and internationally, as well as utilize my quality experience to promote the healthcare quality profession,” says 2015 Rising Quality Star recipient Bert A. Thurlo-Walsh, RN, MM, CPHQ.


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MAHQ Newsletter Content

Do you have a quality event happening that you would like your fellow MAHQ members to know about? We are interested in original content about a successful project, recent promotion and any other quality news you would like to share. Please submit articles for approval and posting to

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Connect with MAHQ!

MAHQ is now on Facebook - connect with us here: for updates on programs and other opportunities. You can also keep up with MAHQ, including job postings, through our LinkedIn account:


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Two Free Webinars Featuring Well-Known Leaders being Offered in March to Celebrate Patient Safety

Kick off your Patient Safety Month by gathering ideas from two of the field’s top experts!

In celebration of Patient Safety Week, Coverys is offering two complimentary webinars during the month of March. These and other educational resources are being offered to reinforce your efforts to reduce risk, increase safety, and support the delivery of quality healthcare.

Participate in a live conversation on patient safety with the President and Executive Officer of the National Patient Safety Foundation, Dr. Tejal Gandhi.

Talking Patient Safety with Tejal Gandhi, MD, is scheduled for March 3, 2016, at 2p.m. Eastern. The program will start with a brief interview with Dr. Gandhi, after which participants will have the opportunity to have questions answered in real time. for more information and to register.

The Quality, Safety, and Value Movements: Why Transforming the Delivery of Healthcare is No Longer Elective with Dr. Robert Wachter, scheduled for March 15, 2016, at 2p.m. Eastern.

As an added Patient Safety Week bonus, the first 70 participants who complete the evaluation survey and pot-test will receive a complimentary signed copy of Dr. Wachter’s most recent book, The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age. for more information and to register.

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