Quality Insights Executive to Retire

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Kathleen Merrill, Chief Financial Officer, stepping aside after shepherding more than 40 years of growth and accomplishment

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"How fortunate I have been to live a work life that was filled with challenge, meaning, opportunities to continually learn and grow and most of all, filled with wonderful people working together for the benefit of others."

Kathleen “Kathi” Merrill, Quality Insights’ Chief Financial Officer, will retire on July 1, 2017 after more than 40 years of service, Sven T. Berg, MD, Chief Executive Officer, announced today.

In addition to being the longest-tenured member of the executive team, Merrill was Quality Insights’ fifth employee, joining what was then the West Virginia Medical Institute (WVMI) in 1975.

“Kathi’s positive impact on Quality Insights cannot be overstated,” Berg said. “As the company’s work and staffing has grown and become increasingly complex over the years, she has been a constant, providing exceptional leadership and stewardship as well as invaluable institutional knowledge.”

During her tenure, and due in no small part to her contributions, Quality Insights grew from a startup, West Virginia-focused non-profit medical record review organization to a national resource for health care quality improvement serving federal and state government agencies, as well as foundations and private organizations across the United States.

“When I began my career at what was then WVMI, we were a local company focused on improving health care in West Virginia, a focus we still care deeply about today," Merrill said. "To see the growth—not only in footprint and people served, but also in skills and resources - is very gratifying.”

As an example, Merrill pointed to Quality Insights’ Quality Innovation Network, which is now collaborating with 9,500 health care providers and more than 1,200 community partners in five states to help achieve the federal government’s National Quality Strategy and its goals of better care, smarter spending and healthier people. She also referenced Quality Insights’ End-Stage Renal Disease Networks, which are helping improve kidney care for patients in seven states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories.

Of particular historical significance to the company was Merrill’s leadership in procuring its first and largest national project, known as the External Peer Review Program, to collect quality of care data from every Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facility in the country, allowing VHA leadership and staff to have the information necessary to assess and target improvements at the system and local levels.

“For a small, state-based company to procure a major national quality review project was unheard of at the time,” Merrill said. “We were competing against very large, experienced corporations. Not only were we awarded the contract, we continue to provide these services to the VHA 25 years later. It’s really a testament to our ‘can-do’ spirit and genuine commitment to customer service and quality health care.”

In addition to furthering the work of Quality Insights, Merrill also gained prominence nationally, serving on a number of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services task forces and workgroups, and notably became the first non-physician or CEO President of the American Health Quality Association which represents the nation’s Quality Improvement Organizations and others interested in quality health care.

Although Merrill has been planning her retirement for the past year, she has not slowed down, having taken a key leadership role in crafting the organization’s new mission, vision and three-year strategic plan.

“I am very excited about the company’s new mission of ‘bringing people and information together to improve health,'" Merrill said. "It really encompasses our core competencies of learning and diffusion, data collection and analytics, and quality measurement. It also captures our desire to continue being a convener and trusted resource for a broad range of constituencies working to improve care quality.”

In reflecting on her 40 years, Merrill said that she heard someone say during a recent NPR interview that ‘how we spend our days is how we live our lives.’

"How fortunate I have been to live a work life that was filled with challenge, meaning, opportunities to continually learn and grow and most of all, filled with wonderful people working together for the benefit of others," she said.

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About Quality Insights

Based in Charleston, West Virginia with offices throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, Quality Insights is a regional and national resource for health care quality improvement, specializing in measures development and maintenance, data collection and analysis, learning and diffusion, health information technology, and practice transformation. Its 300+ employees and contractors support quality initiatives for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), state governments, private payers and more. Learn about how Quality Insights is bringing people and information together to improve health at http://www.qualityinsights.org.

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Marc McCombs
Quality Insights
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