NICQ 2018-19: Achieving Measurable Benefit for Infants and Families


NICQ 2018-19: Achieving Measurable Benefit for Infants and Families

 About the Collaborative

For 25 years Vermont Oxford Network has engaged interdisciplinary care teams and family advisors from the worldwide community of practice for multi-institutional improvement collaboratives.

The Newborn Improvement Collaborative for Quality (NICQ) is our most comprehensive quality improvement program. Teams identify a specific local aim they will work to improve over the course of the collaborative and then join a subject-specific homeroom group to apply disciplined quality improvement methods to achieve their goal.

In-person, multi-day immersion center visits support monthly online meetings throughout the structured curricula. Guided by expert faculty, homeroom teams share their quality improvement processes and outcomes with the larger collaborative and benefit from the demonstrated improvements of collaborative partners.

Participating teams will:

  • Align improvement with leadership/organizational strategic vision
  • Integrate family centered care
  • Improve teamwork
  • Use data for real-time achievable tests of change
  • Implement and measure small tests of change for improvement
  • Publish and present outcomes
  • Earn continuing education credits/hours (CME/CNE/CPE)
  • Earn Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Part 4 credit
  • Optimize the value of care

How it works

  • NICU teams identify a specific local aim they will work to improve and join a subject-specific homeroom before January 2018
  • Homeroom groups allow 8-10 teams to learn from each other and share information leading to improvement
  • Expert faculty of clinical/topic leaders, family leaders, and quality improvement leaders support each homeroom with coaching and guidance
  • Collaborative-wide audits, homeroom measurement plans, online resources, and immersive onsite gatherings (2x/year) support homeroom goals

How teams accomplish goals

Each team has the full benefit of:

  • 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


  • Curriculum: January 2018 – December 2019
  • Launch meeting: January 26-28, 2018 in Jacksonville, FL
  • Annual Quality Congress: September 20-24, 2018 and October 3-7, 2019
  • Additional onsite meetings: Spring 2019

Frequently Asked Questions

find answers

Who should participate?

Every NICU team can benefit from collaborative improvement. Review your VON Annual Report to determine your team’s opportunities for improvement.

Can teams join the collaborative after January 2018?

Because of the intensive nature of the collaborative and the utilization of methods of change for quality improvement, which uses a cumulative process of small tests of change, teams cannot join the collaborative after the launch meeting.

How does the collaborative lead to improved outcomes?

Expert faculty and high-quality VON tools and resources support team learning through online and in-person curricula. Teams measure small tests of change to improve in real-time. Goals are measurable and achievable to establish potentially better practices.

Who is the faculty?

Each homeroom is guided by clinical, quality, and family leaders. Our faculty and staff include individuals with formal training from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI) and from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). VON attracts thought leaders and practitioners on the leading edge of advances in care from the worldwide community of practice.

Why are family advisors involved in the collaborative?

Family-centered care is a foundational principle of the collaborative. Your team’s family advisor is a fully empowered and supported member of the team. With the input from family advisors and support from faculty and VON, you will advance family-centered care in your unit.

How does the collaborative align with my hospital’s goals?

We encourage teams to align quality improvement work with the larger organization vision and priorities. By improving the quality of care you provide to newborn infants and their families, you can affect the value of care your hospital provides. As part of your team’s participation in the collaborative, we will help you measure indicators of value to communicate to senior leadership.

What’s the time commitment for my team?

In addition to multi-day immersive in-person programming and monthly online meetings, we have found the most successful teams meet weekly, although specific scheduling is the decision of each team. By engaging the larger NICU team and family advisors in small tests of change, teams can distribute the workload and use their time in the collaborative in the most efficient and effective manner.

What does it cost to participate?

The two-year program has a fee of $25,000 per center per year. All educational and improvement resources, including the entire catalog of the VON Learning Management System, are available to the entire NICU team and are included in the fee. Additionally, participating teams receive complimentary Annual Quality Congress registration and intensive programming for four team members, two senior leaders, and two family advisors.