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Leader; Provider
11/27/2018 2:00 AM

#SuperSHIFTERS Debbie Molloy and Colin Stevenson are Co-Chairs of the Atlantic Health Quality and Patient Safety Collaborative. The Collaborative aids in knowledge exchange and provides advice and recommendations to the Atlantic Deputy Ministers of Health for the purpose of advancing quality improvement and patient safety across Atlantic Canada.

(Colin Stevenson and Debbie Molloy)

What is the role of the Atlantic Health Quality and Patient Safety Collaborative?

The Atlantic Health Quality and Patient Safety Collaborative (AHQPSC) is a collaboration across the health system in the four Atlantic Provinces: New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. The focus and purpose of the AHQPSC is to help us to advance patient safety knowledge and initiatives across our jurisdictions -- to build capacity, foster relationships and share information, knowledge and expertise.

The Collaborative was created by the Ministries of Health from the four Atlantic Provinces in 2010, to help us learn from each other. The Steering Committee is comprised of 13 members, with three representatives from each of the four Atlantic Provinces (two come from the health system and one from the provincial Health Ministry), and a local member of Patients for Patient Safety Canada that sits as the patient and family representative. We have a strong partnership with the Canadian Patient Safety InstituteCanadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI), who act as the secretariat and provide a myriad of support and continuity to the AHQPSC. The work of the AHQPSC is funded through a biennial grant provided by the four provincial Health Ministries.

What are some of the key initiatives that the Collaborative has undertaken?

Our hallmark event is to host the Atlantic Learning Exchange (ALE). One of the four Atlantic provinces hosts the Conference every second year, with support for planning coming from all members of the Collaborative. With CPSI at the table, we add national and international perspectives on the advancement and improvement of safety and patient care. The ALE is an opportunity to talk about what is happening in each province and to recognize and celebrate patient safety initiatives across Atlantic Canada. The next ALE will take place in St. John's, Newfoundland on October 8-9, 2019. This will be our fifth conference and we welcome everyone interested to come and learn more about our work.

On a pan-Canadian scale, the AHQPSC was an active and committed partner for the National Patient Safety Consortium and the Integrated Patient Safety Action Plan, with representation at the Consortium table and on the Action Teams for each of these priority areas. Through the Collaborative, members from Atlantic Canada have also actively supported actions from the Surgical Care Action Plan and contributed to the evaluation of the Consortium and Integrated Patient Safety Action Plan.

The Collaborative has made an investment in patient safety and quality training. We have offered incident management skills training; hosted a Canadian Patient Safety Officer Course in a combination of online and in-person formats; provided disclosure training in cases of adverse events; and introduced the TeamSTEPPS Canada™ program to improve teamwork and communications. By investing in these types of training, we have been able to advance the skill level of a large group of people within each of our respective provinces. This would not have been achievable as individual jurisdictions.

In terms of resource materials, the Collaborative was involved in the development of a patient engagement framework in partnership with the Canadian Patient Safety Institute and Health Quality Ontario. The Engaging Patients in Patient Safety – A Canadian Guide was first launched at the ALE in Prince Edward Island in 2017. Earlier this year, the Collaborative assisted with revising the guide. This extensive resource is based on evidence and leading practices and aims to help patients and families, patient partners, providers, and leaders work together more effectively to improve patient safety.

One of our current priorities is supporting a 12-month virtual collaborative around patient engagement in patient safety and quality improvement. In the past, our collaboratives have taken an in-person format, so this is an opportunity to try something new. The virtual collaborative was launched in September 2018 with 17 teams from the four Atlantic Provinces participating. Over the next year, teams will receive coaching on how to improve patient engagement, learn new strategies, and work together as a larger community to ensure we are at the top of our game in terms of patient engagement.

What makes the Collaborative unique and innovative?

The Atlantic Provinces have taken a multi-provincial approach in building relationships and seeking opportunities to collaborate on patient safety initiatives. This makes us unique in Canada. We come together to identify priorities and pool our resources to produce results that can be utilized across Atlantic Canada. We aren't aware of any other jurisdiction that has seen this type of cross-province success in their partnerships.

What makes the Collaborative successful is that we have been able to go explore areas that may not have been given the same amount of thought if we had all been working independently. We have been able to tackle priorities together; we may be at different places along the road, but we are able to work on priorities that are important to all of us. This strong collaboration facilitates the sharing of ideas and learning across all of Atlantic Canada, which has proved to be effective, efficient, and also ensures standardization across the jurisdiction.

In terms of value and how we do our work, we have representation from all four provincial Health Ministries sitting at the table, along with the delivery arm of the system, to have conversations and establish priorities. We sit at the table together, share information and develop an approach to take us along the patient safety journey.

What learnings or takeaways has the Collaborative provided for you?

Debbie: For me personally, gaining an in-depth understanding of both patient safety and quality improvement has been very beneficial. Being part of the Collaborative has also offered a different level of thinking and learning around how to engage patients and the value of having the patient and client at the table.

Colin: In healthcare, or otherwise, it is important that we have alignment within more than one province. We have been able to identify some truly remarkable things to focus on, targeted our resources to develop them together, and put them into use across the four Atlantic Provinces. We don't often see such success in working across provincial boundaries. This was an eye-opener for me. We have seen progress and we all continue to have a commitment to the work we are doing together across the Atlantic Provinces.

Is the Collaborative a model that others could replicate?

At the end of the day, it is about finding the common ground, something that all parties are interested in advancing together. We have been able to tap into the expertise and knowledge of CPSI, which is very helpful. We are not big provinces, and at times it is a bit of a lonely space to be in. You can't always look at other jurisdictions and feel like you are talking to someone who is similar to you, which is an advantage that we are grateful to have at the Collaborative table.

The fact that we have a pan-Canadian partner who has the knowledge and processes to support and bring people together is a huge advantage. We have had great success in our partnership with the Canadian Patient Safety Institute. When people are coming together on their own it can be a bumpy road, but if you leverage a partner to help you identify opportunities, it certainly makes the journey easier.

Where can our readers go to learn more?

We are happy to lend our expertise nationally! Contact us at:

Colin Stevenson has over 20 years of healthcare management and leadership experience, working in both the private and public sector with roles in facilities management consulting, long term care, health authority operations and project/transformation management. As the Vice President of Quality and System Performance with the Nova Scotia Health Authority, Colin is responsible for leading the development and implementation of strategic plans, goals and objectives to support the delivery of provincially integrated health programs and services; and ensuring there are structures, systems and processes in place to enable the Nova Scotia Health Authority to achieve the best outcomes in health care program and service with a focus on quality, performance and patient safety. Colin is a graduate of the Health Administration program of Dalhousie University and a Certified Health Executive (CHE) with the Canadian College of Health Leaders.

Debbie Molloy is a human resources professional with 20 years of experience in the healthcare, energy and hospitality industries. She has worked in both the public and private sectors and brings a broad understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing health care in today's environment. Her career path has allowed her to develop expertise in the areas of organizational effectiveness, talent management and employee relations. Beyond human resources she has also a solid background in quality improvement and patient safety. At Eastern Health, Debbie has had executive responsibility for a number of programs including Human Resources, Quality, Patient Safety and Risk Management, Infection Prevention and Control, Occupational Health, Protection Services and the Centre for Nursing Studies. Debbie holds both a Bachelor of Commerce (Co-operative) and Masters of Education (post-secondary studies) from Memorial University.