“People are your greatest asset”

At the 2018 HIROC Conference, delegates came together to drive change in healthcare

Tuesday, August 7, 2018 – Michelle Holden

“It was a misdiagnosis that was so simple but turned our world upside down,” said Lorna Doolan during the opening session at the 2018 HIROC Conference.

Doolan – a Patient/Family Advisor with the Manitoba Institute for Patient Safety (MIPS) – joined over 400 delegates on April 30 to share stories and strategies around keeping risk and safety top of mind. And while Doolan’s story was one of unfortunate circumstances – it stood as a sobering reminder of how important it is to put the patient and their family at the centre of care.

“The initial misdiagnosis of my dad’s broken hip was most certainly the beginning of a chain reaction,” said Doolan. She shared with delegates a heartbreaking story that truly emphasized the stress that patients and their families undergo, and how it can affect their physical and mental health and lead to dire outcomes.

Maintaining safety during amalgamation

“Patients and families have to be at the forefront of all decisions we make,” said Verna Yiu echoing the sentiments of Doolan. “We know that healthcare is nothing but relationships between individuals.”

Yiu, President and CEO of Alberta Health Services (AHS), addressed delegates as part of a panel discussion on maintaining safety during amalgamation. She spoke alongside Janet Knox, President and CEO of Nova Scotia Health Authority, and Kim Baker, CEO of the Central LHIN in Ontario.

In 2008 Alberta rolled its regional health authorities into the centralized AHS – a model that Yiu looks at as a success in terms of safety but also quality improvement. “Our provincial model really plays a major role in helping us scale and spread clinical improvements,” she said.

When asked about lessons learned during the amalgamation, Yiu emphasized a stronger focus on community, staff and patient engagement. For Knox, this too was a takeaway from the creation of the Nova Scotia Health Authority. “We can never lose that focus on engaging patients and families in their communities,” she said.

Baker’s experience with amalgamation takes on a fairly different lens, with the Central LHIN being just one year into their journey. For Baker the goal of a successful, safe transition is twofold: (1) continuity of care for patients, and (2) minimal disruption. A part of that is supporting staff so everyone knows their role, “It’s taxing for staff to work without role clarity,” said Baker who emphasized the role of people (staff but also the community) in planning. “People are your greatest asset.”

Leadership perspectives

Later that morning delegates also got a taste of several new resources targeted at senior leaders and boards of healthcare organizations.

The Patient Safety “Culture Bundle” for CEOs/Senior Leaders – introduced by Alex Munter, President and CEO of CHEO – was born out of a partnership between the Canadian Patient Safety Institute (CPSI), the Canadian College of Health Leaders (CCHL), HealthcareCAN and HIROC. During his talk, Munter shared with immense pride the culture of safety that exists at CHEO, and how, if it starts with leadership this culture can then cascade through every part of the hospital.

Karen Dunlop, Chair of the Board of Directors for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) brought a board perspective when she introduced HIROC’s newest resource, 21 Questions: Guidance for Healthcare Boards on What They Should Ask Senior Leaders About Risk. Dunlop talked about WRHA’s approach to address the structural problems in the region; it is known as “Healing Our Health System”. This approach, Dunlop said, is designed to make the system better. Dunlop – who offered a public apology to Lorna Doolan after hearing her story that morning – said that it’s these kinds of stories that illustrate to her where WRHA was and where it needs to go.

Throughout the remainder of the day, delegates heard from HIROC subscriber organizations about the fight against patient deterioration, the very real issue surrounding second victims, and the integration of medical cannabis in a hospital setting. Cyber also took the stage with a presentation from Lakeridge Health on the WannaCry attack. Throughout all of these sessions was a focus on clearly defined processes and staff empowerment.
“Everyone I talked with today acted as a reminder of why my team and I come to work each day,” said Catherine Gaulton, CEO of HIROC. “We are continuously learning from the stories of our subscribers and the many healthcare mavericks in Canada. It’s their passion for safety that drives our commitment to living our vision – ensuring we have the safest healthcare system.”

A particularly apt quote from Winston Churchill brought things full circle for delegates, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

Thank you to all of the speakers for sharing their stories throughout the day, and the delegates who joined us. It’s through these shared learnings and connections that we can keep innovating and driving change in healthcare.

Michelle Holden is Communications and Marketing Specialist, HIROC

This article was originally published – with more photos from the event – in the summer 2018 issue of The HIROC Connection