Destined for Improvement
Health Data Management Magazine, 04/01/2011
Laura Adams is living out her destiny in multiple ways. She was a born CEO (according to her mother): all business and given to trying to organize other kids. She started in health care as a nurse. She turned her passion toward quality improvement after mistakenly giving a child an almost-fatal dose of scopolamine, following a medication order that had been hand-transcribed six times between the prescribing physician and Adams. She quickly rose through management ranks, managing hospitals while in her 20s. One day, she stood in line at a Houston bookstore to meet industrial quality legend W. Edwards Deming, and she impulsively handed him her business card, saying, "We've got problems in health care." Deming agreed, having just had a hospital stay himself, and called her. "I couldn't have been more surprised if it had been Elvis," she says. Studying with Deming led her to join forces with another Deming disciple, Don Berwick, M.D., founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and currently CMS administrator. Adams has been on the IHI faculty since its inception. She came to the Rhode Island Quality Institute as its first CEO in 2002. It's the only organization to score all major HITECH grants: health information exchange, regional extension center and Beacon Communities. Adams says tiny Rhode Island is a perfect lab for testing health care improvement strategies. "Every industry needs a Petri dish," she says.
Meet the Board
Laura L. Adams
President and CEO
Rhode Island Quality Institute
Laura Adams is the President and CEO of the Rhode Island Quality Institute (RIQI), a collaboration of the top leadership of health care stakeholders working together to transform the health care system in the state. The Quality Institute led the effort in Rhode Island as it became national beta test site of the SureScripts’ electronic prescribing system. The RIQI is currently leading and coordinating multiple initiatives to promote the adoption and full use of health information technology throughout Rhode Island. The organization was one of nine Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIOs) selected to develop national consensus practices for state-level health information exchange.
She was selected to serve on the inaugural board of the American Health Informatics Successor (AHIC), Inc., AHIC Successor, Inc. is an independent, sustainable public-private enterprise whose role is to bring together the best of the public, non-profit and private sectors into a trusted, purpose-driven organization for the creation and use of a secure interoperable nationwide health information system.
Laura is a faculty member of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in Boston and has been since its inception. She directed the IHI/VHA Idealized Design of the Intensive Care Unit project and was a long-time faculty member of VHA’s Transforming the Intensive Care Unit initiative. She led the governance consulting for the Improving Performance in Practice (IPIP) Initiative, a Robert Wood Johnson-funded collaborative initiative of the American Board of Medical Specialties, and the Boards and Societies of Internal Medicine, Family Physicians and Pediatrics. She serves on the National Advisory Board for this initiative.
Laura was Founder, President and CEO of Decision Support Systems, a New York-based company specializing in Internet-based health care decision support. She was among the first to bring the principles of healthcare quality improvement to the Middle East, in conjunction with Donald M. Berwick, MD and the Harvard Institute for Social and Economic Policy in the Middle East. She traveled in the U.S. and Europe with Dr. W. Edwards Deming as a student in the study of statistical-based quality improvement.
Her publications include co-authoring with Gustafson, et al, "Developing and Testing a Model to Predict Outcomes of Organizational Change", Health Services Research, 38(2), 751-776 and co-authoring "Collaborating with Consumers to Advance Health Knowledge and Improve Practice" in Herzlinger, R, Consumer-Driven Health Care: Implications for Providers, Payers and Policymakers, 2004" She also co-authored "A Draft Framework for Measuring Progress Towards the Development of a National Health Information Infrastructure, BMC Medical Informatics Decision Making, June, 2005. Laura also co-authored "Improving comfort and communication in the ICU: a practical new tool for palliative care performance measurement and feedback", Nelson, J., Mulkerin, C., Adams, L. and Pronovost, P.; Quality and Safety in Health Care, Aug 2006.
Laura’s experience in healthcare at the senior management level included her position as Vice President of Patient Services at Parkview Episcopal Medical Center in Colorado and Assistant Administrator for the Universal Health Services’ New Orleans area hospitals. She is Thundermist Health Center’s 2007 Francesco Cannistra Memorial Award recipient for visionary leadership and dedication to improving health care quality in Rhode Island.