MHA Keystone Center Awarded Grant to Study Hospital Culture

Posted on November 21, 2016

OKEMOS, Mich. ‒ The Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) Keystone Center has been awarded a grant by the Center for Innovation and Research, a partnership of Sparrow Health System and Michigan State University (MSU), to research hospital culture and front-line healthcare professionals speaking out about potential mistakes.

“The grant is focused on conducting formative research through focus groups and survey methods to develop an understanding of the existing culture of speaking-up related to medical errors and near-misses,” said Sam R. Watson, MHA’s senior vice president of patient safety and quality and executive director of the MHA Keystone Center.

“Understanding factors that affect whether front-line healthcare professionals report medical errors and near-misses at Sparrow is critical to ensuring the best possible care for patients. This project will provide important knowledge which can improve healthcare staff performance and patient outcomes,” said Shelia Cotten, PhD, director, Sparrow/MSU Center for Innovation and Research.

The research team will run a series of focus groups with practicing clinicians to better comprehend barriers to submitting adverse healthcare-related events, with a goal of understanding the existing organizational culture at Sparrow Health System. The findings will be analyzed for common themes, trends or concerns. Findings will then be aggregated and shared with hospital administrators. If there are actionable areas of opportunity, the research team will consider a second phase for developing interventions for improvement.   

The research team is being led by Dr. Kenneth J. Levine, a professor in the department of communication at Michigan State University, along with co-principal investigator Dr. Kami Silk, also a professor in the department of communication at Michigan State University.  Other research team members include Christine Jodoin, MSN, RN, NE-BC, vice president of nursing at Sparrow Hospital; Ted Glynn, MD, FACEP, vice president of medical education and research at Sparrow Health System; Anna Melville, director of population health at Sparrow Health System; and Adam Novak, manager of patient safety & quality at the MHA Keystone Center.

The grant and its research builds upon the work of the MHA Keystone Center and its efforts to improve hospital culture among members at the unit and organizational level. Leveraging data and trends from the MHA Keystone Center Speak-up Award! and adverse event reports, this research aims to influence best practices and provide further insight into the culture of preventing patient and staff harm.

“Cultural improvement is a foundational concept that crosses all of our patient safety and quality improvement efforts,” said Watson. “Our targeted focus on improving culture and initiating person and family engagement activities are helping move members toward becoming highly reliable organizations.”

Michigan is the second state in the U.S. to embark on a statewide high reliability initiative with the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare, and this research will guide the MHA Keystone Center and its work in helping members move toward a state of high reliability. Highly reliable organizations are those that manage safety hazards extremely well under trying conditions and do so consistently over extended periods of time. High reliability in healthcare signifies excellent care is consistently delivered, with a commitment to zero preventable harm.

Learn more about the MHA Keystone Center and their patient safety and quality improvement work at,

About the Center for Innovation and Research

The Center for Innovation and Research (CFIR) was created through a formal partnership agreement between Sparrow Health System and MSU. MSU’s intellectual capital and Sparrow’s community-based clinicians work collaboratively to develop innovative approaches to high quality, safe healthcare. The Center aims to transform the delivery of healthcare through the implementation and evaluation of research that improves patient outcomes and lowers costs. To learn more, visit Follow CFIR on Twitter and Facebook.

About Sparrow Health System

Sparrow, a member of the prestigious Mayo Clinic Care Network, is mid-Michigan’s premier healthcare organization and includes hospitals in Lansing, St. Johns, Ionia and Carson City as well as Physicians Health Plan, Sparrow Physicians Health Network, the Sparrow Medical Group and the Michigan Athletic Club. Through these partnerships and the dedication of 10,000 caregivers, Sparrow pursues a vision to be nationally recognized as a leader in quality and patient experience. For more information, visit

About Michigan State University College of Communication Arts and Sciences

The College of Communication Arts and Sciences at Michigan State University (MSU) is one of the oldest, largest and most respected communication colleges in the world offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of fields of specialization. MSU is a pioneer land-grand university and top 100 research university.  Research areas in the college focus on issues including global health and risk communication, understanding the impact of new communication technologies and addressing global communication challenges.

About the MHA Keystone Center

The MHA Keystone Center is a nonprofit organization that brings patient safety experts and hospitals together to work in collaborative programs to improve patient safety and healthcare quality and to reduce medical errors. To date, the center has been funded by MHA-member hospitals, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. For more information, visit Follow the MHA Keystone Center on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About the MHA

Based in greater Lansing, the MHA advocates in Michigan and Washington, DC, on behalf of healthcare providers and the communities and patients they serve. The MHA is a nationally recognized leader on initiatives that protect and promote quality, cost-effective and accessible healthcare. To learn more, visit Like the MHA on Facebook, and follow the MHA on Twitter and LinkedIn.


Tags: MHA Keystone Center, Patient Safety and Quality, High Reliability, HRO, Culture, MHA Keystone Center Speak-Up Award!. Speak-up!

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