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November 30, 2023

Enhancing care through Quality Improvement: Debbie Barabash’s journey 

Courtney Schick
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At 3sHealth, the pursuit of continuous Quality Improvement (QI) has been the driving force of motivation for everyone, including QI champion Debbie Barabash. Barabash, who currently works as a Senior Human Resources Information Systems Specialist, has worked in the healthcare industry for over 30 years and says her passion for continuous improvement is fueled by appreciation from patients and staff. 

However, this wasn’t always the case. Barabash recalls feeling reluctant after being introduced to the principles of QI in 2014. Reflecting on her initial experience, Barabash felt the demands of her role were overwhelming at the time and the prospect of taking on additional tasks seemed daunting.

“I was already extremely busy, many of the staff were covering more than one position at a time. I felt I didn’t have the capacity to take on more tasks,” says Barabash.

In the beginning, Barabash and her team were encouraged to start small by each identifying two improvements per month. Over the next several months, she found the task was not only manageable, but also came to the realization she enjoyed finding ways to enhance her daily work and improve the experience of patients. With that, her foundation of Quality Improvement was set, and she felt ready to take it even further. 

Utilizing many QI tools and resources, including work standards and driver diagrams, Barabash has been able to provide improved support and enhance various processes within the payroll departments at 3sHealth and the Saskatchewan Health Authority. By gaining insight and examining the pain points within these critical departments, she was able to develop a pivot table that transformed raw data into easily accessible and straightforward information. This initiative not only improved understanding but also enhanced the overall performance of staff, who were empowered through clear guidance to address potential audit issues.

“Many healthcare workers are knowledge workers, meaning it’s important to them to know why they’re doing something and how the process has evolved,” says Barabash. 

After almost a decade of continuous improvement, Barabash is still incredibly passionate about embracing the culture of Quality Improvement. What advice does she have for others working in healthcare?

“Be conscious of problems you run into with the processes you use daily. This can provide you with an opportunity to enhance it for yourself and your colleagues,” she advises.

A culture of continuous improvement is attainable for all staff members at all levels of an organization.

“This culture creates a purpose for coming to work every day, it empowers employees to make improvements themselves and enhances clients’ experience and relationships,” reflects Barabash. “The positive feedback from patients is an absolute game changer!”

Barabash’s story is a testament to the transformative power of embracing Quality Improvement in healthcare. Her journey encompasses not only the challenges encountered, but also highlights the impact dedicated effort toward process improvements can have on patient care and organizational efficiency.