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Keynote Speaker

Dennis Wagner, MPA


Dennis Wagner Photo 2 - Dec 2015

Director, Quality Improvement and Innovation Group
Center for Clinical Standards and Quality
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Dennis Wagner is the Director of the Quality Improvement and Innovation Group in the CMS Center for Clinical Standards and Quality. Dennis and his team support healthcare providers who are using systematic quality improvement to make care better in tens of thousands of hospitals, nursing homes, clinical practices and communities across the nation. This team of public and private quality improvers actively work to spread the best practices of highest performers, so that “best practices become common practice.”

Prior to his current role at CMS, Dennis served as the Associate Director for Campaign Leadership in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI),and as Deputy Director and then Acting Director of CMS’ Office of Clinical Standards and Quality. Dennis worked for 12 years at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), including a final stint as Acting Director of HRSA’s Office of Health Information Technology and Quality. While at HRSA, Dennis led major national initiatives to increase the donation and transplantation of organs. After years of relatively flat national organ donation levels, this work generated unprecedented and lasting national increases in organ donation over a four-year period.

Dennis is a national and international leader in the fields of healthcare quality improvement, the environment and social marketing. He is a frequent keynote speaker at national conferences and symposia, and has received numerous honors and awards for his work in public service. Dennis is recognized by his peers as an enthusiastic, thoughtful and strategic person who believes in committing to and delivering on bold goals in work and in life.

Dennis received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Montana State University. He attended a one-room country school in rural Montana for grades K-8, where he learned that helping others to learn is one of the best ways to learn yourself. Dennis recently co-authored a chapter entitled “The Key Elements of Effective Collaborative Design” in the book, All In: Using Healthcare Collaboratives to Save Lives and Improve Care.

Dennis is also a recipient of the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal (known as the “Sammies”) 2016 Federal Employee of the Year Award. This award is from the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service and was awarded for CMS’s work on drastically reducing preventable medical harm on a national scale. The Sammies are a highly respected honor with a vigorous selection process and are known as the “Oscars” of federal service.

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