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February 22, 2017

CQIP participant discusses HIV project

In January 2017, 16 Saskatchewan doctors became the first participants in the new Clinical Quality Improvement Program (CQIP), which was launched by the Health Quality Council (HQC) in collaboration with the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) and the provincial Ministry of Health. CQIP is an 11-month course designed to build capability for facilitating and leading successful health care improvement work in Saskatchewan. The program includes a mix of theory and experiential learning, along with individual coaching and a community of practice for physicians actively working in a clinical context.

CQIP is a sister program to the internationally recognized mini-Advanced Training Program, which was developed by Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, Utah. Its content has been adapted by HQC for the Saskatchewan health care system. CQIP is accredited through both the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons.

As CQIP continues through to November 2017, HQC will share information about the participants’ projects. Here, Dr. Erin Hamilton answers questions about her project and about quality improvement in health care.

Dr. Erin Hamilton, Prairie North Health Region

Q: Why did you want to get involved in CQIP?

A: I am involved in several teams where we see areas where we can improve and often have good ideas for improvements. However, despite initial enthusiasm, these good ideas often aren’t translated to lasting change due to lack of time, commitment, skills, or a multitude of other reasons. This becomes frustrating both for myself and for the team and gradually erodes enthusiasm, confidence, and work satisfaction. I am hoping that by committing time to the program and learning skills for quality improvement, I will learn tools to help our teams develop and achieve meaningful and sustained changes.

Q: What is your project about?

A: My project will focus on increasing HIV testing and improving connection to treatment and primary care for people living with HIV in our region. The improvement idea is to increase HIV testing of patients at all points of contact in our region. Anecdotally, we have heard that care providers continue to use risk-based testing and are hesitant to test for HIV in settings where they would not be involved in follow up – for example, in ER or through specialists. We would like to confirm these barriers and explore and address further barriers to testing. To connect and retain patients in care, we would like to ensure we have a local care team in place that can assist in providing diagnosis, case management, and initiate antiretroviral therapy.

Q: Why did you choose that topic?

A: The rates of HIV in Saskatchewan are climbing. We know that testing and treating HIV can dramatically reduce transmission rates. We know what to do, but are having difficulty putting this into practice. It seemed like a good fit for a quality improvement project. 

Q: What does quality improvement mean to you?

A: It means continuous incremental change towards a better health care system. 

Q: Why is quality improvement important for physicians and other health care professionals?

A: Our health care system provides fantastic care for patients, most of the time. But when it doesn’t meet the needs of patients, or provide safe care, we should not just accept this. We all want to feel like we are providing the best care possible and feel proud of the system we are working in. A mindset of quality improvement is how we can do that.