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Intensive Accreditation Process Creates “Systemness” for UH Sleep Medicine

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Sally Ibrahim, MD, recent “Dinner with the Doc” honoree, was physician lead in earning corporate accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for all UH sleep labs

UH Clinical Update | December 2021

Creating a high-quality, uniform experience for patients, no matter where they receive care, is a tall order for any large health system. The goal is to always operate as one, but with all the different health care professionals, sites and individual clinical services involved, a little variation is inevitable. At UH, the Sleep Medicine team has taken this variation as a challenge. In the process, it has emerged as a prime example of what can be accomplished through a focus on “systemness.” After many months of work, they’ve recently achieved the prized Corporate Accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), meaning every sleep lab at UH meets the same evidence-based high standards set by the organization.

Sally Ibrahim, MDSally Ibrahim, MD

“It was an effort for, interestingly, systemness,” says Sally Ibrahim, MD, Medical Director of the Sleep Lab at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and physician lead on the project. “We didn’t put a word on it, but we were trying to combine the efforts of all the different sleep labs across the UH system. Part of that was communication across the system, which was led by System Lab Director Kelly Robertson and Dr. Nicole Maronian. My role was to get all of the policies and procedures for each of the sleep labs to be unified under one umbrella.”

Dr. Ibrahim was recently recognized for this work by UH CEO Cliff Megerian, MD, with a “Dinner with the Doc” honor. However, she is quick to point out that it took the considerable contributions of Sleep Medicine professionals and physicians across the UH system to help make it happen.

“This is definitely a team win,” she says.

Dr. Ibrahim singles out Subhra Chakrabarti, Manager of Sleep Labs, Kelly Robertson, System Director of Sleep Services, and Nicole Maronian, MD, Chair of Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgery and Director, UH Ear, Nose & Throat Institute, who served as interim leader of Sleep Medicine, with playing a pivotal role in the achievement.

The Sleep Medicine team, she says, maintained focus during what was a meeting-heavy, arduous administrative process by keeping patients’ needs always at the forefront.

“Patients are why we do it,” she says.

At the same time, she says, the group wanted to strike the right balance between promoting a unified approach and respecting the unique cultures that exist at different UH sites.

“How do you keep that small culture feel that’s wonderful about UH,” she says. “You don’t want to disrupt that and you don’t want to feel like you’re lost in a big organization. We aimed to create systems that help improve processes, share quality goals, and ultimately ease the burden of work for all.”

Dr. Ibrahim and the Sleep Medicine team are now deep into the project of implementing upgraded, uniform software for sleep studies across the UH system, which will create a better experience for both UH providers and patients.

“Dr. Maronian advocated for the Sleep Medicine team and understood the need for this,” she says. “It will create systemness and help us unify our processes. It was huge.”

“Currently, Dr. Ibrahim is spearheading the standard work templates for our new sleep software solution,” says Kelly Robertson, Manager of Sleep Labs. “Here she is leading a committee that is developing the templates based on best practices and AASM guidelines. This will revolutionize how we interpret and result our sleep studies but also will provide standard content for our sleep impressions and results.”

Dr. Ibrahim is relatively new to UH. She earned her medical degree at the University of Texas Medical Branch Medical School and completed residency training in internal medicine and pediatrics at MetroHealth Medical Center here in Cleveland. Following her fellowship training in sleep medicine at Cleveland Clinic, she practiced on the faculty staff there for 11 years, joining UH in September of 2019.

Dr. Ibrahim says it’s the people she’s met at UH who make her glad she’s here, as well as the ability to have impact.

“Dr. Megerian and others understand the power of our people,” she says. “It’s been nice to see people valued for their quality efforts. There is teamwork and a fantastic Sleep Medicine team.  When people want to make a difference, on a quality issue or a process issue, there’s the opportunity to do that and they will be valued for it.”

As she enters her third year at UH, Dr. Ibrahim says she sees continued growth for Sleep Medicine across the UH system, especially as more patients learn what the specialty can offer them. If anything, she says, the COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified patient interest, with disrupted work and school schedules also causing disrupted sleep. Dr. Susheel Patil, the new system sleep director, also has a vision to grow the program. For her part, Dr. Ibrahim is a tireless advocate for Sleep Medicine at UH, promoting its patient access line (216-844-REST) at every opportunity.

“I only see the Sleep Medicine program growing and getting better,” she says.

Congratulations to Dr. Ibrahim on her “Dinner with the Doc” honor.

To nominate a UH physician caregiver for this award, please visit https://uhcommunity.uhhospitals.org/News/Documents/Cliff_Appreciates_Dinner_w_Doc_Nomination_Form-_FINAL.pdf.

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