IHI and NPSF will merge to drive nationwide patient safety efforts

Two leading patient safety organizations have agreed to join forces to accelerate efforts to improve patient and workforce safety initiatives.

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) will merge on May 1, the nonprofit organizations announced (PDF) Monday, the kickoff to Patient Safety Awareness Week.

The organizations believe that together they will have a stronger impact on the patient safety movement. Despite its importance, safety competes for attention and resources with other priorities, such as the transition to value-driven care and population health initiatives.

Derek Feeley
Derek Feeley

And now, given the uncertainties in the industry over healthcare reform, it’s vital that patient safety remains a priority, Derek Feeley, president and CEO of IHI, and Tejal K. Gandhi, M.D., president and CEO of NPSF, told FierceHealthcare during an exclusive interview on Friday.

“I think the healthcare system is looking for somewhere to focus, and this uncertainty gives us a chance to focus on what really matters,” said Feeley, who will lead the combined organization under the IHI name.

Gandhi agreed. “There is a lot of uncertainty and distractions right now, but one thing is certain. No one in healthcare wants harm to fall on the workforce or patients, so I think a unified voice can give organizations real strategies to prevent harm,” she said.

Tejal Gandhi

By combining knowledge and resources, Gandhi says she believes the newly formed organization can help re-energize the focus on patient safety. There will be no staffing changes as the result of the merger, they said.

Feeley said the IHI will retain and continue all NPSF programs, including the NPSF Lucian Leape Institute and the Certified Professional in Patient Safety credentialing program.

One of the first initiatives the groups will work on is a Call to Action to promote patient safety as a public health issue. Gandhi believes the industry needs a national steering group to set nationwide goals for patient safety, determine measures for patient safety and engage the public in these efforts.

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“We’d love to see greater involvement of patients in patient safety,” Feeley said. “I also think organizations need to take a broader view of what is patient safety and what constitutes harm.”

In the coming year, the newly constituted patient safety work at IHI will include a focus on various components of the Call to Action, as well as helping health systems implement a comprehensive safety framework as described in the recent IHI white paper, "A Framework for Safe, Reliable and Effective Care."