CATEGORY: Profile, Spotlight

Innovation Profile: Ulfat Shaikh

Improving quality on the front lines.

Name: Ulfat Shaikh
Title: UC Davis associate professor of pediatrics
Education: M.D., Goa Medical College, India; M.P.H., University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey; M.S., UC Davis
Project: Integrating Patient Care and Health Professions Education to Improve Care Transitions: The UC Health Quality Improvement Network

Innovation Profile is a monthly feature highlighting the work of a UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation fellow or grantee.

By Alec Rosenberg

How do you get better health outcomes? It’s a question that drives Ulfat Shaikh, UC Davis associate professor of pediatrics.

While working at a telemedicine obesity clinic when she first arrived at UC Davis seven years ago, she had success in treating childhood obesity at rural California clinics but couldn’t keep up with demand. With 30 percent of kids in the state overweight or obese, she wanted to have a bigger impact.

Her solution: Take a systemwide approach.

Shaikh received a career development award from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality three years ago. The award enabled her to design and study a quality improvement network of rural clinics in California. She wanted to see if clinics could work together to improve preventive care for childhood obesity and get children to eat better and exercise more. Energized by the success of this learning network, she reached out to colleagues at other UC campuses to brainstorm how to apply the concept across UC’s academic medical centers.

So when the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation issued its first request for proposals last year, “we were ready,” Shaikh said. She received an innovation center grant to develop the infrastructure for a UC Health Quality Improvement Network involving medical residents. The aim of the systemwide network is to improve transitions of care during hospital discharges for adult and pediatric patients.

By improving communication at discharge, Shaikh hopes to reduce readmissions. Almost 20 percent of Medicare patients are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, with Medicare spending $12 billion annually on potentially preventable readmissions.

The twist is involving medical residents, who receive supervised, hands-on training in clinical specialties such as pediatrics or surgery at teaching hospitals like UC academic medical centers. Residents serve on the front lines, playing a key role in the discharge process – and as potential leaders.

“We could multiply our quality improvement workforce by thousands,” Shaikh said. “Residents are seeing this as a critical area to be trained in. They have unique insights into system problems.”

Shaikh doesn’t have to start from scratch. UC medical centers already have launched quality improvement efforts. Shaikh and co-investigators Alpesh Amin of UC Irvine, Nasim Afsarmanesh of UCLA, Brian Clay of UC San Diego and Sumant Ranji of UC San Francisco will build on those efforts to create a common curriculum to train physicians in quality improvement.

The project also will lead to a discharge toolkit for pediatrics that will be used nationally and will set the ground for future quality improvement educational efforts aligned with UC Health priorities.

“We have this untapped network of colleagues,” Shaikh said. “It’s exciting.”

Related links:

View Ulfat Shaikh’s talk at the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation colloquium

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