Midwest Alliance for Patient Safety

Innovation Challenge

IHA Innovation Challenge: Partners in Progress 

Applications are now open to become a Spread Partner in the IHA HIIN Innovation Challenge! If you are seeking improvement in antimicrobial stewardship or Sepsis you are encouraged to learn more about becoming a Spread Partner with one of our two award sites, the first step in doing so is completing a brief application. Ready to become a Partner in Progress? Accept the Challenge here.

IHA is embarking on an ambitious initiative – galvanizing the spread of high impact, quality improvement innovations across the State of Illinois. Is this a bold goal? – YES. Are we up for it? – ABSOLUTELY.

Unlike most innovation challenges that focus on identifying new-to-the-world innovations, the Partners in Progress Challenge focuses on innovations that are already showing promise. These innovations could have a greater impact on patient outcomes if they were in place at more care locations.

Our aim is to leverage the reach of the IHA and the talent of our hospital members to break down barriers that have slowed the spread of high impact innovations to improve the lives of our patients.

      AJ Wilhelmi
      IHA President and CEO


Quality executives, nursing leaders and front line caregivers struggle with the very problem we’re trying to solve – why don’t innovative practices spread more quickly?  Parts of the answer are painfully clear:  time scarcity, resource availability, resistance to change and fear of failure.

We are looking for: MDs, CNOs C[M]IOs, CQOs, administrative leaders, quality leaders, and nurse managers who have successfully tackled one of the 11 HIIN harm areas via an innovative approach that can be scaled to other care settings.

Partners in Progress will provide winning teams with 12 months of support to address those challenges head on. Support includes:

  • Leveraging IHA resources to increase spread across their health system over 6 months.
  • Having access to a statewide community of peers who are also focused on innovation spread.
  • Gaining notoriety for their work and will have local, statewide and national opportunities to share the story.
  • Seeing their innovation have maximal impact on patient outcomes via a statewide commitment for spread.


The Partners in Progress Challenge addresses innovations that are having a positive impact in any of the 11 harm areas.  Candidate innovations need to be at least at the pilot stage of their development journey.  This challenge is about accelerating spread of highly impactful innovations.  If an innovation is too new and not yet ready for statewide spread, then it is not the focus of this challenge.

Submitting teams need to have collected at least 12 months of experience and data with their innovative practice.  IHA will want to know all about the innovation itself [application tab], but the most important information is the WOW factor.


The Partners in Progress Challenge addresses innovations that are having a positive impact in any of the CMS-designated 11 harm areas.  Innovations that are submitted to the Challenge need to be supported by a dyad consisting of an "in the trenches" innovator and a leader who can make change happen. Teams need to be from an Illinois-based HIIN hospital or health system.


Consider the Partners in Progress prize package a well-designed innovation energy boost [or accelerant], not an award trophy to be placed on display.




  • Monetary resources
  • Talent resources: 12 months of dedicated assistance from a IHA HIIN project manager to each winning hospital.  This support will include: on site visits, virtual touch points, and one-to-one mentorship from the IHA team.
  • Training resources: Organization-wide access to the IHA Model for Improvement to aid with change management.


  • Professionally produced video showcasing the innovation and the teams journey to improve patient outcomes
  • IHA memo and statewide press release
  • Spotlight at the 2018 IHA Leadership Summit
  • Visit from AJ Wilhelmi, President and CEO IHA, at a 2018 Board meeting


Partners in Progress helps achieve the HIIN mission of reducing harm by both supporting spread of an impactful innovation at a specific organization and promoting its spread to other organizations across the state.

We first provide fuel [the Challenge Prize] to a hospital to help the innovation spread further within their organization.  We then connect the winning hospital with another Illinois provider who is ready, willing and able to also adopt this specific innovation. 

The combination of these activities not only spurs innovation around the work we do, it also changes the way we work with each other.  And yes, the IHA is your partner for the entire journey.

The challenge doesn’t end here -- remember, this is about spread across all of Illinois.  IHA supports the winning organization with a platform to aid with statewide spread. This Spread Toolkit includes Bootcamp programs, virtual training and print resources for those interested in adoption.

“It is time for us to come together and work as a state-wide community on quality and patient safety challenges. Yes, we will still compete, but let’s compete on outcomes, and spread innovation.”
— MEF Member