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1/15/2020 7:00 AM

Kelli O'Brien - Photoby Kelli O'Brien

Little did I know, when I volunteered to help with the planning and implementation of the Atlantic Health Quality and Patient Safety Collaborative's Engaging Patients in Patient Safety Collaborative in 2018, that I would be joining forces with such amazing experts with varied backgrounds. The collaborative included a knowledgeable faculty of patient partners and healthcare providers, leaders from the Canadian Patient Safety Institute committed to making healthcare safer, and specialists in science and the art of quality improvement from the Improvement Associates.  It was truly a humbling and inspirational experience working with the faculty, the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, Improvement Associates, and the healthcare teams involved.

Seventeen teams, representative of all four Atlantic Canadian provinces, were enrolled in the 12-month virtual collaborative, designed to increase the effectiveness of patient engagement in improving patient safety and quality. Building upon the Engaging Patients in Patient Safety: A Canadian Guide, the teams accepted the challenge to improve patient engagement within their complex, ever-changing environments. The teams selected change ideas to increase effectiveness of patient engagement at point of care, at the organizational level, and/or to enable effective leadership to support patient engagement. Interestingly, nine teams focused either on strategies to increase effectiveness at the organizational level, and eight focused on strategies to increase effectiveness within specific care processes.

The collaborative was unique in that all the learning and collaboration between teams occurred virtually as the teams never came together face-to-face for any of the learning events. The opening and closing events, as well as all the other activities, including the planning for the engagement, occurred remotely. The teams were certainly up to the challenges of working together within a virtual world and the planning group worked diligently to try to create the conditions to support collaboration. An active ingredient contributing to the success of the collaborative was the everyone teaches, everyone learns approach. Although the evaluation results are not yet finalized, informal discussions with team members suggest that the opportunity to learn from each other and from patient partners about successful strategies, as well as to share common struggles, was invaluable for participants. Flexibility and time were key enablers of the collaborative. Congratulations to the participating teams!

I am hopeful for the future based on the teams' commitment to "conquer silence" – to hear and listen to the voices of patients and providers and empower and enable patients to be partners in care. This deep belief in engagement will help transform the healthcare system for exceptional care experiences with better outcomes for patients. Sustaining and building on the important work of the collaborative will indeed support the creation of "engagement capable environments" in our provinces.1

The Engaging Patients in Patient Safety Collaborative was co-chaired by Kelli O'Brien, Vice-President of Long Term Care, Rural Health and Quality, Western Health (Newfoundland) and Ioana Popescu, Senior Program Manager, Canadian Patient Safety Institute.