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  • 21 Oct 2020 by Absa Fall


    1. If possible, allow yourself time to gain experience in quality. Taking the exam without any background in quality may be challenging. Hands-on experience in Quality can put you ahead.
    2. Prepare using different resources: books, practice exams, and possibly the CHPQ review course.
    3. Have a practice plan. Do not go ahead and memorize books or practice tests. Logical and practical thinking is also important.
    4. Create your own flash cards. Certain styles of questions tend to be included in many of the practice exams and ultimately in the CPHQ exam.
    5. As you’re reading exam books, mark pages and highlight crucial information to come back to.
    6. The exam will cover four topics which are Organizational Leadership, Patient Safety, Performance and Process Improvement, and Health Data Analytics. Some of these sections such as Performance and Process Improvement will include more questions than others. You should master these sections to maximize your chances.
    7. Beware of websites that offer free practice tests. Some of them provide the wrong answers to questions that may conflict with the book and mislead you.
    8. Identify areas you are weak in and allot more time for them to improve your performance.
    9. Give yourself a deadline by which you will want to take the test. You shouldn’t study for longer than three months or may risk forgetting what you’ve learned.
    10. To motivate yourself, register for the exam before you start preparing. You’ll have three months to sit for it. The hefty cost will certainly be a big push for you to succeed.
    11. Review the US CPHQ Candidate Handbook from NAHQ to learn about the exam structure, types of questions and more.
    12. Complete the pretest questions at the beginning of the exam. They are not part of your final score but can help get you warmed up for the test.
    13. Read the questions carefully to not miss any key information. Pay attention words such as EXCEPT, NOT, LEAST, ALWAYS, NEVER…
    14. If it takes you longer than one minute to answer a question, mark it, skip it and move to the next.
    15. If you are unsure of the right answer, eliminate obvious wrong answers first then choose the best answer considering logic and different alternatives.
    16. Use the extra time at the end to revisit questions you skipped or were not confident in.

    Have additional tips and tricks to share? Let us know in the comments below!

  • 02 Feb 2020 by Alyson Mitchell

    My journey into healthcare quality happened by accident. I had been working at an academic medical center in an operations training role when I was asked to take over the management of 6 departments and 50+ employees. As I set out to learn more about the departments and staff, it was immediately apparent that they didn’t have a clear pulse on how their departments were performing against organizational expectations, or whether or not they were meeting their individual goals.   It was clear that performance metrics needed to be introduced, but I knew it wouldn’t be easy, as many of the staff had been in the same role for 15-20 years without really knowing how well they were performing.  We started small, with industry best practice metrics for the type of job they were performing. Dashboards were created, and individual performance assessments developed.  We met weekly in each department to review metrics, and scheduled 1:1 meetings monthly to review individual performance. Though there were eye rolls, resistance, and lots of doubt in the beginning, after a while it became their normal. When performance started improving, I would find ways to celebrate those small wins with coffee/donuts or cake. Soon enough, an amazing thing happened…the staff started telling me when we were exceeding goals instead of me telling them, and they brought ideas to the table that would make them further succeed. It was a beautiful thing really, and made me realize that measuring performance against goals and talking about how to improve was fascinating and exciting.  This led me down the path of healthcare quality.

    Soon after this epiphany, I left the organization that I was at for a Quality Management role at a managed behavioral health organization.  There, I developed internal strategy to measure and execute adverse incident and member grievance investigations more efficiently in accordance with regulations; I led interdisciplinary teams to work on projects that would improve our clients HEDIS measure performance, and I helped develop policies, work plans, and data measurement to support NCQA accreditation.  Subsequently, I joined a health system as the Director of Physician Network Quality, where I worked with leaders, physicians and staff improvement of preventative care metrics such as colorectal and breast cancer screening, as well as diabetes, depression, and blood pressure screening. I helped them understand patient experience metrics, and suggested ways to improve. I worked with CMS and other payers to report performance and meet regulatory requirements.  In both of these roles, it was clear that looking at and understanding data was the key to improving. It was at this time that I also joined NEAHQ with the goal of helping to create educational programs for those in healthcare quality careers or interested in pursuing them.

    I recently took a role in managed care, and I’m working with Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) on strategies to improve clinical quality metrics and coding.  I continue to be passionate about presenting data and educating my clients on ways to improve.  I love seeing pride on people’s faces when they exceed goals. It’s so gratifying, especially knowing that I’m also indirectly helping to improve the lives of the patients we serve by ensuring proper screening and management of disease.