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April 26, 2018

“Data creates a window into your system”: SK health care leaders get refresher on power of data for learning, improvement

Measurement is key to building a health care system that uses data to learn and to continuously improve the quality of care it delivers. That was the message some 65 Saskatchewan health care leaders heard from measurement-for-improvement expert Brandon Bennett last week in Saskatoon, at a day-long workshop hosted by the province’s Health Quality Council (HQC).

The learning event, entitled “Designing, Aligning and Integrating Measurement for Improvement,” brought together senior leaders and measurement specialists from the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and Ministry of Health. 

Brandon Bennett is as an Improvement Advisor with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), where he’s involved with the Triple Aim and serves as faculty for their Improvement Advisor Professional Development Program. Through his work with Improvement Science Consulting, he has developed experience in multiple countries and across various sectors. Bennett set out six steps for building a continually learning health system: 

  1. Organize for improvement: Determine what structures are required, then create them. 
  2. Provide education and training to support your improvement effort: Improvement requires both QI knowledge and content knowledge
  3. Use the Model for Improvement to guide improvement projects, regardless of their complexity
  4. Guide teams and individuals on how to use charters and sponsors
  5. Learn from improvement efforts:  Determine what is and is not working
  6. Redeploy resources: Invest staff and other resources accordingly. 

Dr. Susan Shaw, Chief Medical Officer with the SHA and chair of HQC, said the workshop’s message is timely, in light of the restructuring to a single health authority.

“It’s a great reminder of the importance of leaders understanding what measurement can do for us, how we align measurement, and how we question what the data tells us so we can continuously improve care for patients,” said Dr. Shaw. “Brandon also reminded us to make sure the measures we are asking for are the same measures that our staff need so they can understand what they’re doing and how they’re improving care on a daily basis.”

For Amy Strudwick, the April 19th workshop highlighted and reinforced the importance of understanding and managing variation in a system. “It really spoke to the importance of leaders having a collective focus on reducing variation,” said Strudwick, who is Lead Specialist, Office of Quality and Strategy Management (Regina) with the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

“As leaders, we must always allow ourselves to not respond and react too quickly to data. Rather, we need to give ourselves time to take a step back and ask learning questions that will help us understand if there’s any variation in our system, which can prevent managing haphazardly.” (Amy Strudwick)

HQC’s Chief Executive Officer Gary Teare said the Council hosts events like the Brandon Bennett workshop because it is committed to helping Saskatchewan’s system leaders, administrators, clinicians, and patients develop skills and experience with the science and practice of quality improvement.

“Here in Saskatchewan, our health system organizational restructuring is giving us an opportunity to have a fresh start in many areas – and an opportunity to reset and recommit to a purposeful learning journey together in order to promote better health and provide better care in partnership with patients and communities.”