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Editor: Danielle SimpsonPerformance at a glance button

Challenging the Status Quo

By Mary-Kay Whittaker
Change from within

“Let’s make the status quo unacceptable” were the concluding words from Dr. Philip Ellison, the DFCM’s Director of Quality Improvement, to DFCM leadership at the Gearing up for Quality faculty development workshop on Nov. 19, 2010.  The DFCM is setting off on an exciting new initiative that will bring family physicians to the forefront of leading improvement in primary health care by challenging the status quo and making improvements to their everyday practice. 

Why Quality Improvement (QI)?

  1. The Excellent Care for All Act requires it.  Keynote speaker, Dr. Terry Sullivan, President and CEO of Cancer Care Ontario, said that this new legislation intends to establish Ontario as a global leader in improvements in quality of patient care.
  2. Canada ranks second last overall compared to other commonwealth countries in relation to quality care; access; efficiency; equity; long, healthy, productive lives and health expenditures per capita, according to the 2010 Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey.
  3. QI is a way for educators to address the CanMEDS-FM competencies, particularly the Manager/Leader roles, in our residency curriculum.

Quality improvement is a team-based approach to asking questions about practice that lead to improved patient outcomes and more efficient office practices.  For example:

 “What are the most common errors and which one has the greatest risk?” or

“What practice process is not working?”

A frequent process issue identified at the workshop was one of patient access to same day care.  QI lets us tackle this issue in small, manageable steps by mapping out the current process, identifying where the process may be breaking down, and identifying and testing areas of improvement.  The rapid cycles in the Plan Do Study Act (PDSA) model are the cornerstone of quality improvement.  A key learning from the workshop was that QI is highly successful when physicians and interdisciplinary team members undertake QI together and allow each team member to practice to his/her full scope of practice.

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