By Elizabeth Ireland, Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post
Quality improvement is an important part of our province’s health care system, but what happens to the process when a pandemic is taking place?
Tracey Sherin is chief executive officer of the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council (HQC). Since 2002, the Saskatoon-based organization’s mandate has been to accelerate improvement in the quality of health care in Saskatchewan. With its own board of directors, HQC operates independently from the provincial government and employs approximately 45 staff.
In addition to her CEO role, Sherin serves as co-chair of the oversight committee for the Saskatchewan Centre for Patient Oriented Research (SCPOR). Although the term may be unfamiliar to the average Canadian, patient-oriented research is the concept that health research done through partnering with actual patients and their families leads to better outcomes. HQC and SCPOR help to facilitate connections between patients, families and other stakeholders for specific research opportunities in the province.
Sherin was previously HQC’S director of data analysis and research partnerships, where she led a team of researchers and analysts generating evidence to enable health system improvements. Sherin earned her BSC in microbiology and immunology from the University of Saskatchewan and her MSC in health care and epidemiology from the University of British Columbia.
HQC has been hosting its staff meetings and huddles virtually since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Launched in early 2017, the Clinical Quality Improvement Program (CQIP) is one of HQC’S flagship programs. With COVID-19, the 10-month program is business as usual (virtually of course) and the fifth CQIP cohort is in the recruitment phase right now.
CQIP is designed to build the skills and capacity necessary for successful health care improvement work, within the system itself. CQIP is a collaboration with the Saskatchewan Medical Association and the provincial Ministry of Health. Participants are mostly physicians with some other clinicians, such as pharmacists, participating as well.
“We believe that the Clinical Quality Improvement Program helps clinicians develop the skills they need to lead improvement in our health system. Evaluations of the program indicate that participants feel that they are well equipped to lead quality improvement initiatives, and many go on to lead new projects. We are also seeing that these improvement tools are preparing participants to adapt to the changes that we are experiencing as part of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen 62 clinicians graduate the program so far, with another 20 completing the program as part of our fourth cohort. We are recruiting for Cohort Five, which will be offered fully online so that participants can continue to learn these valuable skills during the pandemic,” says Sherin.
Relatively new on the scene are HQC’S Bestpractice Panel Reports. These panel reports give Saskatchewan’s family physicians relevant information about their patient population—including demographics, emergency room use, chronic disease and prescription medication rates.
“So far, about 20 per cent of Saskatchewan’s family physicians have requested a Bestpractice Panel Report to better understand the populations that they serve and to identify areas for improvement. The feedback we have received is that they find the reports useful for understanding their practice and identifying changes they want to make. Once they have signed up, physicians will receive an update to their report once a year,” says Sherin.
As the pandemic enters its eighth month, what impact has COVID-19 had upon HQC’S efforts? “On a practical level, HQC has been able to react quickly and build capacity. We have transitioned many of our program offerings to virtual methods. As a team, we have adapted to working remotely when possible and have modified how we use our office space. We have also implemented safety procedures, such as wearing masks in common areas,” says Sherin.
Saskatchewan patients, and their family members, can become involved in the patient-oriented research process as advisers or research partners by going to the Patient & Researcher Connection Site at qi.hqc.sk.ca/scpor-connectionsite.
More information on HQC and its programs can be found at www.hqc.sk.ca.
This article was originally published in the Health Care Providers Week special edition in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and the Regina Leader-Post. View the full edition here: https://issuu.com/postmediasaskatchewan/docs/sas_health_care_providers_week_10.28.2020
continuous improvement , Clinical Quality Improvement Program , appropriateness of care , SCPOR , Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research , physician panel reports , Tracey Sherin , COVID-19 Tags: