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10/28/2014 6:00 PM

The Safe Transitions in Care pre-conference to Canada’s Forum on Patient Safety and Quality Improvement was a day packed with thought-provoking presentations, brainstorming discussions and theatrical dialogue on strategies to identify gaps and learnings from leading practice in transitional care. The pre-conference was sponsored by Alberta Health Services (AHS), the Health Quality Council of Alberta and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute.

More than 300 people participated in the day’s program, with an additional 1,100 visitors from 425 sites joining the virtual broadcast. Online participants were from Canada, the United States, France and Slovenia.

Dave Price provided a Patient and Family perspective for safe transitions, relating his late son Greg’s experience. Communications and information are priorities to create a system that is a system, rather than a series of pieces cobbled together. Dr. Ward Flemons outlined five recommendations that have been identified to help build bridges across the gap for patients. Electronic health records an e-referral system are key to ensure safe transitions.

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Dr. Ward Flemons (L) and Dave Price

Carol Barnes, Executive Consultant with Kaiser Permanente provided insight on a five-step bundle developed for safe care transitions: risk stratification with tailored care; a specialized phone number provided with discharge instructions; standardized same day discharge summary; medication reviews; and follow-up for high risk patients.

There was lively discussion during a brainstorming session on the current and ideal state of transitional care, where participants created images to portray their thoughts. A group discussion on building understanding for safe transitions was then moderated by Steven Lewis.  The panel included Greg Eberhart (Registrar, Alberta College of Parmacists), Sheri Fielding (Nurse Practitioner, Edmonton Southside Primary Care Network), Rick Spooner (Professor – Department of Family Medicine, University of Alberta), Paulina Ross (Allied Health Professional) and Holly Ekstrom (Patient and Family Advisory Group, AHS). 

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(L to R): Carol Barnes, Greg Eberhart, Sheri Fielding, Rick Spooner, Paulina Ross and Holly Ekstrom

The Healthcare Maze: Forum Theatre was an innovative approach to provide conference participants with a deeper understanding of the experience of those living through and working inside transitions in care. David Diamond (Theatre for Living, Vancouver) was joined by Nicole Schafenacker (Research Assistant, University of Alberta), Jeanette Deere (Early Childhood Rehabilitation, AHSl) and Dr. Ann Colbourne (Senior Medical Director, CoACT) to illustrate this highly participatory session.

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Audience participation!

Rapid Fire presentations highlighted leading practices in safe transitions. Stephanie Donaldson-Kelly (Primary Care and Chronic Disease Management, AHS) outlined the Triple Aim collaborative approach that is being used to better understand the needs and challenges to provide care for a compromised population. Allison Bichel (Path to Care – Provincial Access Team, AHS) provided an overview on the e-referral system piloted for breast, lung and hip and joint replacement procedures. Carol Barnes (Kaiser Permanente) offered more detail around leading practices, reinforcing measurement – if you can’t measure it, it does not happen. Linda Woodhouse (Physical Education, University of Alberta) relayed advances made in the Bone and Joint program. A 180 hour training program has been delivered to more than 50 people who are helping to inform and advance bone and joint research.

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 Group discussions

The Keynote presentation`: The Promise and Dilemma of Hope, delivered by Dr. Art Frank, Professor Emeritus of Sociology (University of Calgary) and Professor (Betanien College, Norway) provided an inspirational perspective on hope for the patient. Dr. Frank’s hope for the future patient includes healthcare workers who put safety first and are truly patient-centred; care by people who tell them the truth; leadership who applaud the value of bottom-up ideas and will support whistleblowers who bring up concerns; and courage to tell the trust, whatever that involves.

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Dr. Art Frank

In closing, Hugh MacLeod invited participants to continue their learning at Canada’s Forum on October 29 and 30th.  As the Canadian Patient Safety Institute turns 10, the two-day Forum will review the impact of patient safety in Canada over the last decade and the implications of both successes and challenges for the future. Wednesday’s sessions will focus on building a patient safety culture, and focusing on the patient experience as a priority and catalyst for change. Visit to learn more and to join the sessions.

Click here to view the archived sessions from the Pre-Conference.