HealthcarePapers 6(3) March 2006 : 38-45.doi:10.12927/hcpap..18062

Quality Councils as Catalysts and Leaders in Quality Improvement: The Experience of the Health Quality Council in Saskatchewan

Benjamin T.B. Chan, Marlene Smadu and J. Stewart McMillan


Quality councils are an increasingly common phenomenon in Canada. The Health Quality Council in Saskatchewan, the largest such council in Canada, is similar to other councils in that it reports publicly on quality of care, but it differs in that it has an explicit, central role to support quality improvement activities. The HQC strives to gain buy-in and cooperation from provider groups, even those identified as having suboptimal care, by offering them quality improvement training, measurement tools, information about best practices and advice from experts in change management, group psychology, process redesign and operations research. Developing relationships with stakeholders is a very labour- intensive process, but it is essential to fostering a blame-free culture of quality improvement. The HQC works with senior leaders to help coordinate province-wide priorities for quality improvement and with middle managers and frontline staff to establish local quality improvement teams. It does not alter the structure of existing accountability relationships; rather, it tries to make the dialogue more quality-focused. Its largest-scale activity is a Learning Collaborative involving 20% of all family physicians in the province in an effort to improve chronic disease management. The HQC believes that these targeted, coordinated activities in quality improvement will ultimately be far more effective than simply releasing reports or making recommendations.



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