Falling Through the Cracks: Greg's Story is a short film that gives a glimpse into the life of Greg Price and the healthcare journey that resulted in his unexpected and tragic death. The film premiered to a sold-out audience on May 17, 2018.
In spite of Greg's sad story, the film is intended to inspire positive change and improvement in the healthcare system. In the last year the film has been screened more than 200 times, in every Canadian province, and at two international conferences. During post-film discussions, we have learned that the cracks that Greg fell through are not unique to him, to his diagnosis, or to the Alberta healthcare system.
The film clearly portrays that, while everyone who was involved in Greg's care did their "job", they didn't work as a team – and Greg was not included as a member of his own team. The University of Calgary's Team Scheme framework and the use of the film with TeamSTEPPS training has provided the tools to reinforce "good teamwork", spelling out elements that are required to function as a high-performing team. The framework is a tool which outlines tangible behaviours that contribute to good teamwork.
We need health systems that are structured and incentivized to enable and value teamwork. Our current "system" (including our information systems) is not set up to enable teamwork that would lead to improved safety and quality care. We need true partnerships with patients (and families) and recognition that they are critical members of the team. Patients have valuable insights and a unique understanding of the system. They are the only consistent member of a team and often have to overcome obstacles to be able to find the care that they need. Patient involvement is an incredibly important (and often untapped) resource that needs to be appreciated and utilized.
When given the opportunity, we believe that many patients, families or caregivers can and will step up to contribute in a meaningful way as valuable members of the team. For those patients who can't, we need the time and resources to build a team around them that will recognize their vulnerabilities and fill any potential gaps. We need everyone on the team to know that they have a critical role to play and their unique perspective should be invited, respected and valued.
In the film, the fax machine is depicted and referred to (appropriately) as the villain. There are alternative tools for transmitting information that are secure and compliant, that could effectively eliminate the fax machine. Swapping fax machines for another technology and expecting the cracks in the system to be filled will not work. We need to do more than just "Axe the Fax" – we need to look for tools that will enable sharing information with the team. We need the acknowledgement and shift in mindset that recognize information is critical and all members of the team should have access – including patients and their families. Decisions that are made about what technology to invest in should be made with this fundamental value guiding us.
As a family, we are grateful for the interest in the film and for all of the people we have met in the last year. We continue to encourage positive discussion, the sharing of ideas and learning from successes. Greg loved a challenge. He believed in people, that we should aim high and always be ready to learn. With that in mind, we are (re) launching an online community called the Co-Pilot Collective. Co-Pilot will be the place to request access to the film, additional teaching scenes, and the curriculum and training materials that have been developed. It will also be a place to interact with and learn from others who have hosted screenings of the film or used it for training and education. We will also help others to share the projects that they are working on to build a network of champions, and ideally speed up the spread and scale of some of the good things that are happening.
Teri Price is co-founder and a director of Greg's Wings Projects, a not-for-profit organization established in honour of her brother, Greg Price. The Co-Pilot Collective was created as a means to involve the public in enacting change in the healthcare system.