Team Minnesota initially took part in the National Care Coordination Academy (NCCA) to learn and share with others who care for similar patients. In this interview, Kari Kubiatowicz, BSN, RN, Director of Care Management at Gillette Children’s and co-leader of Minnesota’s NCCA team, discusses how her team’s work through the CMC CoIIN and the NCCA led to increased family engagement and growth of their care coordination model. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity by Candace Jarzombek, CMC CoIIN Graduate Research Fellow.
What would you say were the most valuable parts of the NCCA for Team Minnesota?
This has been our best take at having real family representative involvement from the beginning. Previously, we valued patient- and family-centered care and would seek feedback, but usually only after the care team came up with the intervention to ask, ‘Hey, can you give your blessing?’ It’s a lot better to just involve families from the beginning because they can modify as we go. It’s been a really cool opportunity for our team to learn from families and make more meaningful impacts.
Could you tell me more about how you’ve involved family representatives in your care coordination innovations?
One of the greatest outcomes of our CoIIN work was having a visual care map, which we’ve toyed with before. Years ago, various members of the team had done their own, and we had families show us theirs. Our CoIIN family representatives put together an amazing one as part of our sustainability plan to present to Gillette’s leadership team to request continued financial support for the program. It has been the most impactful slide I have ever shown in any presentation in my whole career. We recently shared it with our leadership team, and after the presentation, they said, ‘Just tell us what you need. We’ll make it happen.’ This is the message we’ve been trying to deliver and haven’t been speaking the same language until we utilized the family voice.
Has participating in the CoIIN and NCCA changed the way that your team uses data to inform your process improvements?
That change has been real, and it’s been helpful. I think we would have gotten there, but the NCCA sped up the process. We’ve been able to take tools that other people have already validated and trial them on our own.
Could you talk about any other changes your team has made to care coordination or any innovations you’ve developed over the course of the NCCA?
We started with a team of one nurse care coordinator. After the impact of the care map and our outcomes, as of today, we have about four full time nurse coordinators. I just posted three more job postings this spring. Our team has grown immensely, and we’ve been able to get the support for that because of the impact care coordinators have had on our patients’ and families’ experience. That’s a big part of our story that I’m thankful for.
The impact that participants like our family members have had on our core team work group, we have now started to bring into other areas of our organization with other quality initiatives. It’s going beyond just complex care.
How will the outcomes from your NCCA work impact future work on care coordination at Gillette?
It has changed the way that we approach quality improvement with our family involvement and proactive collaboration outside of Minnesota’s borders and our hospital walls. It’s reinforced the importance of working together across organizations to serve CMC really well. It’s been exciting to be a part of a culture where it’s all about sharing.
Is there anything else you would like to share about Team Minnesota’s NCCA work?
Just that I am full of gratitude for the NCCA, gratitude for the other organizations, gratitude for Rhonda Cady for leading us in this effort, and for our families. Families have been the real game changers in all of this.