Dr. John W. Cowell is the Chief Executive Officer of the Health Quality Council of Alberta
What a long way our nation has come in regards to quality improvement in health care since Alberta first put its toes in the water in 2003. Our own organization has evolved significantly in that time, and there is great value for us to see what approaches other provinces are taking as this important field of work progresses and adapts to the needs of the various health care systems.
In 2004 the Health Quality Council of Alberta (HQCA) helped initiate regular meetings with the other quality councils in Western Canada to explore how we could learn from each other. It was a very productive exercise and early on included the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. These quarterly meetings were a starting point for the collaboration that continues across our country today, and when reading the Which way to quality, report it reinforces the value of sharing these perspectives.
I’m very proud to have been with the HQCA since our inception. It’s tremendously rewarding to have been a part of something that began as a philosophy and has evolved to offer very tangible benefits to the health care system in our province. For example, I encourage anyone interested in defining and measuring quality in health care to learn how our Alberta Quality Matrix for Health provides a lens through which to focus quality improvement efforts.
Another example of a very real benefit we offer is one of the first measurement tools that we introduced and continue to provide today - our patient satisfaction and experience survey. We have completed six province-wide surveys since 2003. These survey results offer health care providers a valuable glimpse into how Albertans’ experiences have changed over time and by location for a variety of health care services and settings.
The Health Council of Canada’s report has inspired our team at the HQCA to continue to expand our collaborative efforts with our partners across Canada. As wisely said by Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up.”