NICQ: Newborn Improvement Collaborative for Quality

Teams participating in this intensive learning lab are immersed in hands-on collaboration and structured quality improvement education.

small group learning

Small Group Collaboration Drives Improvement

Sharing supports improvement among and within all centers

Teams identify a specific local aim they will work to improve over the course of the collaborative and then join a subject-specific group to apply disciplined quality improvement methods to achieve their goal over the two-year program.

Guided by expert faculty, teams share their quality improvement processes and outcomes with the larger collaborative and benefit from the demonstrated improvements of collaborative partners.

Collaboration within hospital groups and among the rest of the collaborative is essential to success, including (de-identified) data-sharing and an openness to share local practices, policies, and improvement strategies.

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learning on NICU rounds

Immersion Learning and In-Person Collaboration

Site visits spur collaborative improvement

Multi-day immersion visits to host centers and in-person meetings twice per year support monthly online meetings and other activities throughout the group curriculum.

Teams visit a host center in their group to learn in the care environment and offer their own insight and advice for improvement.

Other in-person meetings occur at the Quality Improvement Symposium and Annual Quality Congress, where teams share their work and learn from other teams and experts in the field.

Collaborating at neonatal care meeting

Sequence to Achieve Change

Continuous measurement and structured QI methods

Teams use their VON data,  potentially better practices from their group toolkit, and consultation with faculty to identify gaps in practice and prioritize change ideas.

Each team works toward their SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) aim using the Model for Improvement and Plan Do Study Act (PDSA) cycles and the foundational principles of family-centered care, effective teamwork, and sound quality improvement methods.

The structure of the collaborative is designed for teams to demonstrate improvement, including sharing their improvement posters and abstracts at VON’s Annual Quality Congress.

Clinician with mother and infant

The Important Role of Families

Participating teams are at the forefront of integrating families into improvement.

Family advisors are fully empowered members of each improvement team and contribute to changing practices and peer-reviewed abstracts presented at VON’s Annual Quality Congress.

This substantial focus on the important roles families have in the care of their infants results in teams considering the impact on families at every stage of the improvement process.

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Kangaroo care with infant

Benefits to Participating Teams

Participation results in continuing Education (CME/CNE/CPE), potential Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Part 4 credit, and opportunities to publish or present results in peer-reviewed articles and presentations. Teams have access to:

  • Toolkits containing potentially better practices and change ideas to guide improvement implementation
  • Expert-led webinars demonstrating theoretical and applied improvement science (4/year)
  • In-person collaboration with Homeroom colleagues (2/year)
    • Onsite immersion learning experience at a designated center from Homeroom
    • Collaborative sharing and learning during the NICQ Symposium at VON’s Annual Quality Congress
  • Monthly online classroom sessions
  • Online forums for discussions with expert faculty and collaborative participants
  • Complimentary Annual Quality Congress registration for four team members, two senior leaders, and two family advisors
  • All Learning Management System content, including the Virtual Quality Congress and current and past iNICQ materials, for all NICU team members

Current Homerooms

Optimizing Nutrition / Minimizing Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC)

Teams focus on tests of change resulting from analysis of gaps between their practice and evidence-based potentially better practices including use of mother’s own milk.

Multi-System Improvement to Minimize Lung and Brain Injury

Subgroups (Lung and Brain) focus on tests of change resulting from analysis of gaps between their practice and evidence-based potentially better practices including promotion of permissive hypercapnia to minimize ventilation duration, and protocols for neuroimaging.

Optimizing Outcomes for Micro-premature Infants

Teams within 4 Homerooms focus on tests of change resulting from analysis of gaps between their practice and evidence-based potentially better practices including promotion of encounters with the infant that are developmentally supportive and positive.

NICU rounds

Quality Improvement at VON

Dedicated to continuous improvement

More than 700 teams in VON quality improvement collaboratives and have accelerated improvement for the entire neonatal community of practice.

Teams continue to learn effective ways to use data to inform improvement plans that lead to measurable results, which are presented at the VON Annual Quality Congress and peer-reviewed articles.

The QI methodologies that teams become proficient in through hands-on work in VON collaboratives inform improvement in other areas of their work with infants and families in the NICU and other care settings.

Participation in VON quality improvement gives teams the tools, guidance, and momentum they need to sustain continuous improvement.

Learn more about VON quality improvement