Our story

Established by government legislation in 2002, the Health Quality Council (HQC) is a provincial organization with a mandate to accelerate improvement in the quality of health care in Saskatchewan. Since then, HQC has been working with patients and families, clinicians, administrators, researchers, and quality improvement specialists to make health care better and safer for everyone in Saskatchewan.

The past 19 years have been an exciting journey. While our mandate – to accelerate improvement in Saskatchewan’s health care system – has remained constant, the ways we support our partners have changed over the years. Explore the timeline below to read about some of the highlights.

April 2001

Creation of the Health Quality Council

In his final report of the Saskatchewan Commission on Medicare, health consultant Ken Fyke recommends the creation of a Quality Council to position Saskatchewan to “lead the country in the pursuit of a quality culture that will be the next great revolution in health care.” HQC is the first agency of its kind in Canada.

November 2002

HQC Board Appointments

The provincial government appoints the first-ever HQC Board of Directors. The expert panel includes provincial, national, and international health care leaders. Regina’s Dr. Stewart McMillan is the first chair.

March 2003

Room For Improvement

HQC releases a discussion paper, "Room for Improvement," at the 2003 Partners in Health provincial conference. Five potential starting points for HQC are presented in the paper: access to health services; applying evidence; primary health care; quality improvement; and, patient safety.

July 2003

Quality Improvement Network Launch

We launch the Quality Improvement Network (QIN) as a forum for health regions and the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency to exchange successes and lessons learned. In its early days, QIN also provides member organizations with seed money to establish their quality improvement infrastructure.

September 2004

Release of Quality of Care Reports and Quality Improvement Guide

HQC releases its first quality report, Improving the Quality of Post-Heart Attack Care: Outcomes and Secondary Prevention. In conjunction with the report, several quality improvement initiatives were launched. HQC also produces a Quality Improvement Guide highlighting leading strategies from Canada and abroad. The post-heart attack report is the first of 14 such reports we released over the next 6 years.

September 2004

Patient Experience Survey

In partnership with health regions, HQC launches the province’s first patient experience survey. It is designed to provide patients with an opportunity to share their views on how they were treated during their hospital stay. Selected patients are asked about specific aspects of their hospital stays, including the admission process, hospital staff, pain management, discharge procedures, and the general hospital environment.

January 2005

Adult ICU Collaborative

Eight adult intensive care units begin working together as part of the year-long Saskatchewan Adult ICU Collaborative, to enhance patient care and safety in this particularly complex environment. The Collaborative addresses two topics: control of sedation and agitation, and prevention of venous thromboembolism. HQC provided funding and web-based infrastructure for the improvement initiative, and evaluated its impact.

September 2005

Teams and Leaders in Quality Improvement Training

HQC hosts the first Teams and Leaders in Quality Improvement Training (TLQIT) session. These one-day, hands-on workshops were designed to help individuals and teams apply improvement science methods to start and sustain improvement projects. Over the next three years, more than 600 managers and providers around the province participated in TLQIT workshops.

November 2005

Chronic Disease Management Collaborative

HQC launches Saskatchewan’s first Chronic Disease Management Collaborative. Over the next 10 months, close to 200 health care professionals come together at four learning workshops to learn about proven ways to improve care for patients with diabetes and heart disease, and how to enhance access to medical practices. Wave 1 of the Collaborative involved all 13 health regions and 35 family physician practices in Saskatchewan. It was our largest capacity-building effort to date.

October 2006

Forum on Public Reporting in Health Care

HQC hosts a two-day forum on public reporting in health care. More than 150 stakeholders, interested citizens and journalists share their thoughts on what types of information should be reported about health care quality and safety.

December 2006

Improving Saskatchewan's Health Care System

A visioning session hosted by HQC attracts close to 200 stakeholders from across the province to identify key issues and strategies for improving Saskatchewan’s health care system. Participants discuss topics ranging from emergency room capacity to citizen-led engagement. There is strong support for HQC to continue leading Collaboratives and other large-scale quality improvement initiatives, and offer capacity-building training activities, and quality measurement tools and activities.

February 2007

Continuous Patient Surveying

Based on strong support from health regions, continuous patient surveying begins in Saskatchewan and continues for the next seven years. Each quarter, HQC provided regions with their own results as well as overall provincial scores. Saskatchewan is the first province in Canada to do this kind of continuous patient surveying.

November 2007

Quality Improvement Consultant School

Twelve students take part in the first wave of Quality Improvement Consultant (QIC) School. We launched the learning program to help improvement specialists learn about the science of quality improvement, and develop confidence and skills to lead and facilitate improvement work in their home organizations.

February 2008

Principles on Public Reporting are Published

HQC releases a paper that outlines our principles on public reporting, called Public Reporting on the Quality of Health Care: Emerging Evidence on Promising Practices for Effective Reporting. In it, we advocate disseminating information about health care quality in a manner that helps providers and decision-makers better manage and deliver care, and equips members of the public to fulfill their roles as citizens and health care users

April 2008

Clinical Practice Redesign

The first wave of Clinical Practice Redesign (CPR) gets underway, involving 29 Saskatchewan clinicians and office managers. The program is designed to build capability within family physician and specialist practices to improve the way they manage medical appointments, using a proven approach called advanced access.

June 2008

Measuring and Reporting in the Pursuit of Learning and Improvement

200 leaders from Saskatchewan and across Canada attend the workshop Measuring and Reporting in the Pursuit of Learning and Improvement. Hosted by HQC, the event features presenters from health systems across North America leading the way in their use of measurement/reporting to deliver safer, more effective care.

September 2008

Releasing Time to Care

HQC is part of a diverse Saskatchewan delegation that travels to the UK to learn more about Releasing Time to Care (RTC): The Productive Ward, a program designed to increase the amount of time nurses spend on direct patient care. Saskatchewan would go on to adopt Releasing Time to Care, with the program running on all medical and surgical hospital wards in the province for three years.

October 2008

Quality as a Business Strategy Workshop

HQC hosts the first workshop of Quality as a Business Strategy (QBS), a learning program designed to help senior managers and board members integrate management for quality into their organizations. Workshop 1 is led by representatives of Jönköping County Council in Sweden. Many of our partners credit the QBS initiative with laying the foundation for our province's current transformation efforts.

October 2008

Quality Insight System

HQC launches Quality Insight, a new system of measurement and reporting designed to help health system leaders and providers improve care. It builds on the first six years of quality reports, by providing follow-up measurement and monitoring of quality over time.

January 2009

Quality as a Business Strategy Workshop 2

During Workshop 2 of Quality as a Business Strategy, participants have the opportunity to learn from leaders of Alaska’s Southcentral Foundation, a health care system that reinvented itself to better meet the needs of the local Native population. Participants learn about the importance of leaders empowering their organizations to change and improve, seeing the people we serve as “customer-owners” rather than passive recipients of care, and capturing the “voice of the customer” through many different channels.

February 2010

Quality Insight Discussion Paper

A working group overseeing the new Quality Insight measurement and reporting program presents Saskatchewan health care managers and leaders with a discussion paper. The document puts forward the case for aligning measurement with quality throughout this province’s health care system, and identifies the barriers to such alignment.

October 2010

Reducing Surgical Wait Times

HQC is part of a local delegation that travels to England to learn about innovative approaches the National Health Service used to reduce its surgical wait times (General Practitioner (GP) referral to surgery) to 18 weeks. The opportunity to speak with hospital administrators, surgeons, and operating room teams in the NHS was invaluable for Saskatchewan leaders, who are working to improve the surgical care experience for patients in this province.

February 2011

Quality Insight Website Launch

We launch the Quality Insight website to provide information that supports efforts aimed at making our system better and safer for Saskatchewan residents. Quality Insight is designed to give everyone access to information about how our health system is performing – including progress toward targets for improving surgical care for patients in Saskatchewan.

April 2011

2011 Health Care Quality Summit

The 2011 Health Care Quality Summit is the first major conference in the province focused entirely on quality improvement in health care. More than 650 health care leaders from around the province and across Canada gather in Regina to learn from North American experts in quality improvement.

May 2011

Workshop for Nationally-Standardized Quality Indicators

HQC hosts a national workshop to build support for nationally standardized quality indicators and identify ideas on how to develop them.

June 2011

Delegation visits Alaska’s Southcentral Foundation

HQC is part of a Saskatchewan delegation that visited Alaska’s Southcentral Foundation, to study their high-performing primary health care system. Representatives from all health regions, the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, Athabasca Health Authority, All Nations Healing Hospital, and the Ministry of Health, learn about Southcentral’s Nuka System of Care, which was created and is managed and owned by Alaska Native people to achieve physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness.

October 2012

First Research Chair in Health Quality Improvement Sciences

Dr. Thomas Rotter joins the University of Saskatchewan as the first Research Chair in Health Quality Improvement (QI) Sciences. The position is jointly funded by the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, and HQC. The Research Chair is to work with the U of S health sciences colleges and schools, HQC, and Saskatchewan’s health regions to contribute to continuous, system-wide improvements in health care quality.

January 2013

Emergency Department Waits and Patient Flow Initiative

In response to a challenge issued by Premier Brad Wall to aggressively reduce wait times in emergency departments, the Emergency Department Waits and Patient Flow Initiative begins its work to improve patient flow in the health system. The Initiative aims to ensure that patients receive the right care, in the right place, by the right teams across the continuum of care, as a way to shorten wait times in emergency departments.

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April 2013

2013 Quality Summit Conference

Sixty patients and family advisors from around the province take part in the 2013 Quality Summit conference. The event, which featured keynote presentations by Dr. Brent James (Intermountain Healthcare, Utah) and e-Patient Dave deBronkart, qualifies for official “Patients Included” designation, because more than 10% of attendees are patients and family advisors.

April 2013

Provincial Kaizen Promotion Office

At the request of the provincial Ministry of Health, HQC assumes operation of the Provincial Kaizen Promotion Office (PKPO). This role includes working with other partners in the health system to support strategic planning, creating a master calendar of improvement training and events, tracking improvements achieved through Lean, and sharing the results and impact of the improvement efforts in the health system. HQC establishes the Kaizen Network, as a community to support provincial sharing and learning.

May 2014

Launch of Saskatchewan Change Day

At the 2014 Quality Summit conference, HQC officially launches the first Saskatchewan Change Day, based on a concept that originated in the UK’s National Health Service. Between May and November, nearly 1,400 people from throughout the province commit to making a small change to improve the health system. Pledges range from greeting people with a smile, to lying in an ambulance stretcher to better understand the patient experience.

May 2014

British Medical Journal Research Publication

Research on the risks of high potency statins, conducted as part of the Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network/Canadian Network for Observational Drug Effect Studies is published in the iconic British Medical Journal.

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January 2015

miniAdvanced Training Program

Four Saskatchewan physicians and an HQC researcher participate in the miniAdvanced Training Program (miniATP) at Intermountain Healthcare in Utah. HQC, in partnership with the Saskatchewan Medical Association, sponsor training to expose Saskatchewan doctors to a world-leading health care quality improvement approach. The participating physicians go on to become faculty and mentors in HQC’s Clinical Quality Improvement Program (CQIP), our “made in Saskatchewan” equivalent of the miniATP course.

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January 2015

Rural Dementia Action Research

HQC and the University of Saskatchewan-based Rural Dementia Action Research (RaDAR) team releases a report providing new information on the scope of dementia across the province, as well as five recommendations for action. The report is based on the most comprehensive study to date on the scope of dementia and dementia care in Saskatchewan.

April 2015

Predictive Modelling in Episodes of Patient Care

The provincial Emergency Department Waits and Patient Flow Initiative begins applying an innovative tool called predictive modelling, to look at the impact of different interventions designed to improve how patients move through an episode of care. By running various “what-if” scenarios, the Initiative team is generating evidence to inform decisions and optimize health system investments.

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September 2015

QI Power Hour Webinars

HQC begins testing a new webinar series designed to build capability on various QI topics. The successful pilot paves the way for the monthly QI Power Hour webinar series now hosted by HQC. Topics have included measurement, plan-do-study-act (PDSA) cycles, visual display of data, driver diagrams, and problem identification, with presentations by HQC staff and improvement specialists from partner organizations.

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May 2016

Open Family Presence Policy

Saskatchewan adopts an “open family presence” policy province-wide, doing away with traditional, restrictive visiting hours in health care facilities. The change was spearheaded by the Patient- and Family-Centred Care guiding coalition, which is chaired by HQC.

January 2017

Clinical Quality Improvement Program

Sixteen Saskatchewan doctors are the first participants in the new Clinical Quality Improvement Program, launched by HQC in collaboration with the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) and the provincial Ministry of Health. The 11-month course is designed to build capability for facilitating and leading successful health care improvement work in Saskatchewan.

April 2017

Launch of the Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research

The Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research (SCPOR) officially launches. The Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan, along with provincial partners, provide $63 million in funding and in-kind contributions for the Centre, to support patient-oriented research to improve health care for the people of this province. HQC and the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine are co-leads for SCPOR.

May 2017

Choosing Wisely Saskatchewan

HQC begins coordinating work in this province to help Saskatchewan clinicians and patients engage in conversations about unnecessary tests and treatments, and make smart and effective choices about care. Choosing Wisely Saskatchewan is part of the larger Choosing Wisely Canada national campaign.

October 2017

Connected Care Strategy

More than 150 health system leaders and providers gathered in Saskatoon October 4 to launch a new strategy aimed at improving care for Saskatchewan patients through better teamwork in hospital and the community, and better transitions between these care settings. The Connected Care strategy emerged from the work of the provincial Emergency Department Waits and Patient Flow Initiative.

April 2018

Measurement for Improvement

Leaders and measurement specialists from the Saskatchewan Health Authority and Ministry of Health gathered in Saskatoon for a workshop led by Brandon Bennett, an improvement advisor with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). The learning event hosted by HQC was called “Designing, Aligning and Integrating Measurement for Improvement.”

June 2018

External evaluation gives CQIP thumbs up

In her final report, independent reviewer Dr. Lois Berry says the Clinical Quality Improvement Program (CQIP) is a “highly valued, well-organized, relevant program that actively engages Saskatchewan physicians in leading the development and implementation of clinical quality improvement projects in their own clinical settings.”

September 2018

Research on high-cost health care users

A study involving HQC researchers found permanent supportive housing and stronger community care could help reduce persistent high-cost use of health care services by people with mental health and addictions problems. The research was published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health.