Why hospitals need chief quality officers

As the healthcare industry transitions from a volume-based to a value-based model, more healthcare organizations are adding the position of chief quality officer (CQO) to their payrolls, according to Becker's Infection Control & Clinical Quality.

Care value's increased importance, from value-based care to readmission penalties, has made quality of care a priority. While quality-related responsibilities often fall to the chief clinical officer or are spread out among other clinicians or executives, more healthcare organizations create CQO positions, according to Becker's.

Small hospitals and major health systems charge CQOs with helping to collect and report the data that demonstrates high-quality outcomes, which are needed for reimbursement and to attract patients.

"For a hospital to say quality is No. 1 in their mission statement and not have an individual overseeing it, it doesn't align," John Bulger, CQO and lead of the division of quality and safety for the Geisinger Health System based in Danville, Pennsylvania, told Becker's. "Naming a CQO or quality officer elevates it in the minds of hospital staff and patients alike."

As a CQO, Brent James of Utah's Intermountain Healthcare previously told Fierce Healthcare his organization shifted its focus to patient-centeredness, not revenue enhancement, to improve the bottom line and quality outcomes.

Like other high-level positions, organizations should seek out CQO candidates with a specific set of skills and experiences. Having a clinical background is helpful, especially when interacting with physicians, according to current CQOs. But that should be combined with someone who understands the business and administrative side of healthcare, so prior executive experience is a plus.

A passion for providing a safe environment, the ability to work with technology and IT staff, and being a team-builder, are all important attributes, CQOs told Becker's. Hospitals can also work to improve quality and safety by turning to the true experts: patients and their families.

To learn more:
- read the report