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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Patient's Perspective

Guest blogger Joyce Resin is the Executive Director, Community Action at ImpactBC, an organization that works with BC patients, providers, and policy makers towards quality improvement in health care. Joyce oversees the Patient Voices Network, a registry of over 1000 British Columbians who apply their experience and voice to partner for change within the health care system. The Patient Voices Network is an initiative of ImpactBC in collaboration with Patients as Partners, British Columbia Ministry of Health.
Every organization should be dedicated to continuous quality improvement, but few areas are as scrutinized as the health care sector. Shifting demographics, emerging research findings, and resource allocation are just a few factors that require administrators and front-line staff to continuously look for ways to increase efficiency and improve outcomes.
Fortunately, there is innovation and leadership in the sector that make this a really exciting time to be working in health care. Change no longer happens from the top down – it is informed by a number of common themes that I’m pleased to see in the Health Council of Canada’s recent Progress Report 2011: Health Care Renewal in Canada. The council clearly understands that true change comes from the following:

An evidence-based approach
Throughout the examples in the report we see attention to methodology, robust and careful reporting, and the use of benchmarks and clearly articulated targets. The correct path to quality improvement sometimes seems obvious, but it often requires careful thinking and experimentation. It’s only through analysis and measurement that we can articulate our goals and be sure we’ve reached them.

Whether it’s consolidating records online or assembling a cross-jurisdictional collaborative, there’s value in bringing people and resources together. Time and money are wasted in silos, and information moves as quickly as change does. By streamlining our efforts and finding structured ways to share our resources, we reach our targets faster.

Use of technology
The age of technology is upon us, across all regions and demographics. It’s a valuable tool for collaboration and improving access to information, and it’s exciting to see so many examples of effective teletriage, as well as online tracking and records management.

One of the most important themes in health care improvement – throughout this report and throughout our country – is the patient centred approach. The patient is the expert in his/her own life, and the only person who experiences every aspect of care. Putting the patient first means looking carefully at issues such as wait times and access to information and resources. In some sections the report talks about the patient’s “journey” – a way of looking at the system holistically through the eyes of the user, in order to find gaps or duplications in care.
Patient-centric also means integrating the patient voice into the process of change. At ImpactBC, through the Patient Voices Network, we work to make patients partners in improvement, giving them the skills they need to participate in change and linking them with opportunities to work with policy makers.
“Everyone benefits from a patient-centric approach,” says Sheila Allison, a Patient Voices Network member. “Patients are heard, and are treated as partners in the change process. Physicians tell me that the patient voice changes their perspective and reminds them why they are there. Historically, change happened slowly and in isolation, but I truly believe we’re in the midst of a paradigm shift.”
It’s clear that the Health Council of Canada is part of this shift – they have recruited patients for consultation in their reporting and as seen in the Progress Report, they aim for a high level of literacy and accessibility.
It’s wonderful to see innovative approaches to improvement taking a foothold all across Canada. The results speak for themselves both in numbers and in patient experience. Congratulations to the Health Council of Canada on some excellent successes to date – and some exciting groundwork for moving forward.

1 comment:

  1. This really good article, i love it, and now i will try to subscribe to your rss feed to get dailly update from your blogs. thanks