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How we improve health

Who we are

The Health Quality Council (HQC) is an independent organization committed to accelerating the pace of improvement in health and health care in Saskatchewan so residents can live healthy lives and have access to high-quality health care.

By using our skills in quality improvement, measurement (research and analytics), collaboration, and skill-building, we partner with and support health organizations, government, and community organizations across the province to drive progress toward better health and better care for all. We place our energy where we believe we can use our skills to make the most impact. Our work is informed by citizens, communities, and shared system priorities impacting health.

In this section

What is quality?

Quality refers to the degree of excellence of something.  Definitions of quality can vary across industry and is typically thought of from the perspective of the end-user.

In health care, quality can be defined as doing right thing at the right time in the right way for the right person and having the best possible outcome. The Institute of Medicine’s 2001 report, Crossing the Quality Chasm, defined six dimensions of quality health care that serve as the cornerstone of quality improvement in health care:

  • Effective: Providing services based on scientific knowledge to all who could benefit and refraining from providing services to those not likely to benefit (avoiding underuse and misuse, respectively).
  • Efficient: Making optimal use of finite resources such as time, equipment, supplies, and energy.
  • Safe: Making sure the care the patient is receiving helps them and doesn’t harm them.
  • Timely: Reducing waits and delays for both the patients and the care provider.
  • Patient-centered: Providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.
  • Equitable: Providing care that does not vary in quality because of personal characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, geographic location, and socioeconomic status.

What is quality improvement?

Quality improvement (QI) is comprised of tools, techniques, and frameworks for systematically improving processes and systems as well as a shift in mindset. The goal of quality improvement is to continuously find ways to improve the quality of your business’s outputs, which could be products, services or outcomes. It’s built on a foundation of measurement to understand your current state, followed by goal-setting, and testing ideas that could help you reach your goal. It involves establishing standard processes to continuously monitor, assess and improve processes, towards a specific goal or outcome. 

In health care, the goal of QI efforts is to improve the ways care is delivered to patients. Quality improvement is a continuous approach with the goal of achieving stable and predictable process results, and improving outcomes for both patients and the system as a whole. 

Our commitment to better health and health care

We work in support of the enduring goals of the Saskatchewan health system of Better Health, Better Care, Better Teams, and Better Value

How the Health Quality Council works to improve health

Providing independent and objective evidence

The Health Quality Council has built a reputation for supporting the health care system with our analytic capability and expertise, to enable evidence-informed decision making in policy and practice for high-quality care. As an independent agency removed from health care governance and service delivery, the Health Quality Council’s independence is ideal to objectively assess program performance.

Establishing a focus on quality in the system

Over the past two decades, the Health Quality Council has supported the adoption of continuous quality improvement as a cornerstone of the Saskatchewan health system. We have played a leading role in establishing the infrastructure for quality improvement departments in regional health authorities, building capability in quality improvement science and methodology, and helping the health care system begin to “think and act as one system.” We have built strong, effective partnerships with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Health, the Saskatchewan Health Authority, the Saskatchewan Medical Association, eHealth Saskatchewan, with patients and families, clinicians, administrators, researchers, students, and quality improvement specialists throughout the province.

Contributing our strengths to help accelerate improvements in health and health care

Studies suggest that up to 75% of what affects our health is not related to the health care system or services (Canadian Medical Association, 2013). Instead, the greater contributors to health are found in the conditions in which we are born, grow, live, work, and age. These factors can be influenced by social policies and shape health in powerful ways. The Health Quality Council sees great potential in our ability to contribute our strengths to help accelerate improvements in health and health care alongside those already working in these areas. We have begun to build new partnerships with stakeholders who are ready and willing to work in new ways to target the root causes of health and wellness and improve the health and quality of life of Saskatchewan citizens.