VQI@VAM: Quality takes center stage at VQI meeting, initiative making much out of zero

Jens Eldrup-Jorgensen

Over the past several months, the Society for Vascular Surgery’s Vascular Quality Initiative (VQI) hit some important milestones, including registering procedure number 1,000,000 in its database, enrolling center number 1,000, as well as 100-plus quality charters initiated in 2022. There are also the 10,000-plus new procedures added to the clinical registry every month.

In short, VQI has collected a lot of zeros. But it’s about more than collecting: it’s about how the members of the VQI use these zeros to become quality improvement heroes.

This year’s VQI@VAM—the VQI’s annual meeting—will celebrate those zeros. But the meeting is about so much more than nothing, said VQI Medical Director Jens Eldrup-Jorgensen, MD.

The meeting will be held from 12 to 5p.m. Tuesday June 13, followed immediately by the VQI Poster Networking Reception until 6:30p.m., and from 8a.m. to 5p.m. Wednesday (June 14). Highlights of this year’s VQI@VAM include the launch of a new national initiative, the announcement of scholarships for vascular fellows pursuing quality improvement projects, an update on that program, announcement of VQI participation awards, and the popular reception on Tuesday evening.

VQI launched the Fellows in Training (FIT) initiative in 2022 and will graduate its first set of graduates during the meeting. FIT is a 12- to 18-month program for individuals completing their medical residencies or fellowships in any vascular disease-focused specialty, such as vascular surgery, cardiology, radiology or vascular medicine.

It fosters an understanding of quality processes and metrics through mentorship in the VQI. The program is a collaboration with the Association of Program Directors in Vascular Surgery (APDVS), American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the Society for Vascular Medicine (SVM).

Gary Lemmon, MD, an integral part of FIT, will announce the winners of the Jack Cronenwett Scholarship, permitting these recipients to continue for a second year. The update and awards will be from 11:15 to 11:40a.m. Wednesday (June 14). The scholarships are named for Cronenwett not just because of everything he means to vascular surgery and quality initiatives, but also because he has already mentored so many physicians, said Eldrup-Jorgensen. “It’s a part of his career that should be publicized and applauded. It’s not just his work with quality, but because of the excellent mentor he was to generations of current excellent vascular surgeons.”

Cronenwett, in fact, will meet with the first group of FIT Scholarship Award winners Thursday morning (June 15). He founded the New England Vascular Study group which led to the creation of VQI, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award at VAM 2016. Eldrup-Jorgensen is saving FIT program highlights for Adam Johnson, MD, chair of the FIT Committee, to discuss at the meeting, but said assessments of the program from participants and mentors indicated the experience was beneficial. “The true indication that it really did work was when so many people applied for the Year Two scholarship,” he said.

On the Wednesday morning of the meeting, Lemmon will announce a new major initiative on smoking cessation. Prior to that presentation, Cassius I. Ochoa Chaar, MD, will discuss “A Comprehensive multidisciplinary inpatient-based approach to smoking cessation for patients with vascular disease” at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Priscilla Callahan Leone of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) follows as a guest speaker from 10:08 to 10:28 a.m.” Lemmon will present more on the initiative until 10:45 a.m.

“Smoking cessation is of primary importance to patients, particularly vascular patients, who are particularly affected by smoking,” said Eldrup-Jorgensen. He and SVS Patient Safety Organization Director of Quality Betsy Wymer will introduce a patient toolkit physicians can use to help their patients quit smoking. Underscoring the topic’s importance, VAM 2023 includes smoking cessation in two abstract presentations.

VQI@VAM’s Tuesday sessions include panel discussions on a variety of topics as well as drilling into semi-annual regional reports. Wednesday sessions are designed for physicians, nurses, data managers, quality improvement professionals and administrators.

View the full meeting agenda at vascular.org/OnlinePlanner23. Organizers point out that VQI@VAM requires a separate ticket from VAM registration.


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