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Speaker Interview

Leslee J. Thompson, CEO, Health Standards Organization & Accreditation Canada

Tell us something about the People Powered Health Movement. How would this impact patient experience?

The health care paradigm is shifting toward the design and delivery of people-centred care where patients and their families are valued, respected and acknowledged as equal members of health care teams and as key partners in their care. The most successful health systems that deliver high-quality care outcomes are ones that are co-designed with people at all levels of the system: front line staff, patients, families, providers, and decision-makers who work together to actively produce high-quality outcomes that are centred around the needs of the patient.

People are at the center of everything we do. People Powered Health is about the right people coming together to build better health systems around the world. When you make sure that all stakeholders involved in the health system listen and collaborate based on mutual understanding and a common purpose, patients have better health experiences, from improved quality, safer care, reduced hospital visits, better outcomes and lower system costs.

How does hospital accreditation influence quality and hospital management? Are there any guidelines/policies governing the implementation of patient experience measurement tools for healthcare providers?

On-going quality improvement is at the core of our accreditation program. Participating in accreditation helps to shine a light on how an organization can maximize quality and patient safety. Accreditation Canada assists organizations through the accreditation process and helps them identify where they can improve both before their survey and throughout their accreditation cycle. The on-site survey itself provides peer-to-peer coaching and gives insight on what an organization is doing well and where there might be room for improvement. Hospital management is directly influenced by this exercise as their organization strives to meet the criteria outlined in the standards. The accreditation program also contains specific standards for leadership and governance that ensure leaders put in place the right policies and procedures for quality and safety.

The standards used to evaluate organizations are based on best practices and are co-designed by committees who have expertise in the area covered by the standards with representation from key stakeholder groups, including the “lived experience experts” (i.e. patients, clients, residents, families, etc.). 

In our Qmentum International standard on Leadership, for example, we require that organizations use the Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture Instrument, which monitors client safety culture to determine an organization’s commitment to client safety and to push the needle forward on client-centered services. We also ensure that leaders develop and implement an integrated quality improvement plan, which helps organizations understand the system from the client’s experience. All of this comes back to normalizing patient and family co-design for a better and safer patient experience. 

What are some of the challenges in establishing an optimal patient experience across an organization?

One challenge in establishing an optimal patient experience is the attitudinal shift and change behaviours needed to embrace patients and families as “lived experts” who can contribute valuable insight about the gaps in services and care and to co-designing successful solutions. They see things that you might not when they’re sitting in the waiting chair. It just makes sense to ask the patient and/or family member what can change to improve the patient experience.
In terms of collaborating with patients and families, some of the challenges we have heard include patients feeling excluded because they don’t “speak the same language” as health professionals. It’s critical to ensure that patients feel like they belong at the table and that their lived experience can help organizations co-design better health care. Another challenge is ensuring the diversity of patient voices being heard. Engagement processes often require time and resources that not every patient can afford. In order to minimize barriers to full participation from patients in diverse demographics, we are currently working towards a policy to compensate patients and families on technical committees to encourage more participation and to appreciate their contributions. 

What is the importance of establishing supportive structures and mechanisms for patient partnership?

If patient partners show up to a co-design meeting and are engaged with as you would with a researcher, caregiver or policymaker, there is a good chance you won’t all be “speaking the same language.” Most patients haven’t taken years of health education or worked in the industry. Consequently, patients might not feel comfortable engaging and sharing key insights that could give your team a deeper understanding of how to improve.  

Establishing a supportive structure for onboarding and working with patients and families will result in deeper learning that you can use to improve quality and patient safety. We have worked with our patient partnership office to create purposeful roles for patients who work on our technical committees and on surveys, but simply establishing these structures isn’t enough. Once roles are (wherever possible) co-designed with patients and staff, it is important to monitor their experiences. Do patients feel supported? Are they contributing? What can we do to help? Continuous listening and evolving the patient role will benefit everyone involved. It’s not just one role where they can help; it’s about having a process where you can integrate the patient voice into your organizational practices.


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