Over the last five years, the Specialist Services Committee (SSC) and Shared Care Committee (SCC) has funded BC doctors to attend the Institute of Healthcare Improvement’s (IHI) annual forum in Orlando, the world’s premier healthcare event that attracts thousands of health care participants from across the globe, providing them with inspiration, networking, and knowledge sharing opportunities.
Adapting to the travel and gathering restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was hosted virtually last December (6-9) with 128 participants from BC sponsored by SSC and SCC. More than 60 sessions were available for participants to choose from, with presenters from across the continuum of care. One of these sessions was about how stakeholders are engaged in the SSC’s Physician Quality Improvement (PQI), a first of its kind initiative in Canada, presented by Drs Curt Smecher, Frank Ervin, and Gordon Hoag.
“PQI is like a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for our participants” said Dr Ervin. “As part of PQI we engage health care workers who are having some issues, whether it is burnout, or something bothers them with how the system runs. They have an answer in their head, almost certainly the wrong answer, but now they see that they have some funding, not only to do a project, but also to learn the skills to do the job properly.”
This year’s presentation, and the half-day workshop last year are examples of how over the years BC’s role has changed from passive participants, to content contributors and enriching of the forum by the experiences gained from applying the concepts learned, to the quality improvement projects and initiatives locally.
Dr Ervin, Respirologist and Dr Erica Phelps, Obstetrician/Gynecologist have attended the IHI annual forum for five consecutive years, and attest to the fact that once you attend this forum, you’ll keep wanting to go back to it.
“I often come back with pages of notes of ideas for projects, practical tools or websites that somebody will reference, and bring them back to various areas of my practice,” said Dr Phelps, who performs her clinical work part time, and supports implementation of the Physician Quality Improvement (PQI) initiative at Fraser Health with the rest of her time.
Another aspect that both Drs Ervin and Phelps deem a highlight of the event is the inspiration and encouragement created by keynote speakers, who are mostly renowned and accomplished health care inspirational speakers and authors, and who usually address challenges around quality improvement. “Quality improvement is very hard work. It requires a lot of persistence, and ‘sticking to it-ness’. It helps to have what you are doing be reaffirmed, because you are around other people who have done courageous work, a lot of which you realize that ‘we could do too’,” said Dr Ervin.
In order to emphasize the networking aspect of the local participants, and to provide an opportunity for them to share their takeaways, SSC hosted daily huddles at the end of the sessions where BC attendees would discuss their learnings, and connect to the work of their colleagues close to home. Throughout the five evenings, these sessions were attended by an average of 30 participants.
Many connections that are made in the forum, be they local or international, can be long lasting. With the group of healthcare professionals sitting around her table in 2017, Dr Phelps formed a WhatsApp group, as part of which she regularly communicates with QI experts from Scotland, New Zealand, San Diego, Alberta and BC.
The SSC and SSC thank both the IHI for conducting yet another inspirational event, despite the added challenges of meeting virtually, as well as the BC attendees for their dedication to the quality improvement work. Many of the participants were doctors who are frontline responders of the pandemic. Special thanks to Drs Hoag, Ervin and Smecher for their PQI presentation, and Drs Lawrence Yang, and Daisy Dulay for facilitating the daily huddles for BC.