Physician participants in Saskatchewan’s new Clinical Quality Improvement Program (CQIP) gathered together earlier this month for an inspiring two-day workshop, which marked the first face-to-face session in the program.
The participants, along with CQIP faculty and Saskatchewan Health Quality Council (HQC) representatives, met in Saskatoon for two days – April 7 and April 8 – to focus on three key workshop themes: building a learning community, starting a clinical quality improvement project, and working with teams. The goal of the workshop was to provide an opportunity to focus on the hands-on application of the online learning the physicians have been engaged in, and to grow the learning community through a network of peers.
The physician participants were enthusiastic about the workshop, including the opportunity to meet and learn from each other.
“As our first workshop through the Clinical Quality Improvement Program, it was truly exciting to learn more about the valuable work my colleagues are doing in Saskatchewan,” said Dr. Shaqil Peermohamed, a participant from Saskatoon Health Region whose CQIP project is related to antimicrobial stewardship.
“This workshop also provided numerous opportunities to seek feedback from my colleagues and different perspectives of how my project can continue to evolve,” he said.
“At its core, quality improvement centres around optimizing patient outcomes by creating a more effective health care system. Learning about strategies to involve patients in quality improvement initiatives will help in the development of my current and future projects regarding antimicrobial stewardship.”
For Dr. Rabia Shahid, another CQIP participant from Saskatoon Health Region, the best part of the workshop was hearing firsthand about the health system experiences of a patient and his family. Shahid said she also valued “sharing the vision of better health care for our patients with physicians from across the province.”
In January, 16 Saskatchewan doctors became the first participants in CQIP, which was launched by 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 part of the first CQIP workshop, two physicians from The Ottawa Hospital – Dr. Virginia Roth and Dr. Alan Forster – made a presentation entitled Training Doctors to Lead Quality Improvement: The Ottawa Experience. Roth is the Senior Medical Officer responsible for Medical Affairs and Patient Advocacy at The Ottawa Hospital, while Forster is a general internist and Vice-President, Quality, Performance and Population Health at the hospital. They started offering a quality improvement/physician leadership program about five years ago and have seen very positive results.
In an interview following their presentation, Roth and Forster spoke about the Ottawa program and how it’s grown over the years. The program provides opportunities primarily for physicians at the hospital, particularly those who are growing into leadership roles and who want to lead change.
“I think, from my perspective, physicians were getting actively frustrated and disengaged because they saw opportunities for improvement and they had great ideas, but they didn’t know where to take them or how to translate that actually into action,” said Roth.
“So this is really a very practical set of skills. . . . It’s how do you practically take a great idea and make it better, make the system better?”
When asked about the challenge of developing leadership skills as a physician, Forster said “the challenge, I think, is that people don’t think they need it.”
“The first challenge is a lot of physicians don’t actually see themselves as leaders. They underestimate the impact and the influence they have or could potentially have – so they bring a lot of credibility,” said Roth.
“They’re on the ground, so they have real genuine opportunities to change – save money, make patient care better, improve quality – but they often don’t self-identify as leaders. And so what courses like this do is it starts that self-awareness to say, ‘Hey, I can make a difference here.’ ”
Forster said his first message for the CQIP physicians was that “they can make a massive difference to the system if they have the skills and they are given the opportunity.”
“Number two is that don’t get discouraged; change is hard and they should continue to focus on the learning – learning how to make the system better and learning how to make themselves better. And then the third was: follow your passion,” he said.
When asked about the CQIP program, Forster had two simple words to describe it: “It’s awesome.” Roth said she was pleased to see it being coordinated at a provincial level.
“The skills these people are learning and they’re going to be applying to different challenges that they face – I think, really, if we want health care system transformation, this is the kind of focus that we need,” she said.
The next face-to-face CQIP workshop will be held on May 12 and May 13 in Saskatoon.
Photo: Dr. Alan Forster (left) and Dr. Virginia Roth from The Ottawa Hospital spoke at the first Clinical Quality Improvement Program workshop in Saskatoon on April 7