This month, I would like to build on something that our Council President, Dr. Bradley, brought up in last month’s Messenger. As a part of his thoughts on where the College should go in the future, he expressed that the medical community has an opportunity to embrace the evidence that’s available to us to improve how physicians learn and provide patient care. These are very insightful words and something everyone should take seriously as we move into a world of digital health care, where data and knowledge will be readily available.
Soon, we will be able to learn at both the system level and the individual care-provider level. The problem is that saying we can learn from this information and actually taking advantage of it are two different things. It’s time for all care providers, not just physicians, to start thinking about what that’s going to look like.
The Federation of Medical Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FMRAC) has already done a great deal of work in this area. In February of 2016, they formalized a position on Physician Practice Improvement (PPI)—I recommend everyone take a look at this document, because it lays out very nicely what a continuous quality improvement approach would look like in a medical practice. The key is the graphic below, from page two of the document:
Step one (understand your practice) will come from the digital data available within the health care system, but knowing what to do with that knowledge is and will be the challenge.
We at the College recognize that we are not the best people to oversee and implement quality improvement programs in health care, but we do have a legislative mandate to ensure physicians who practice in Alberta are maintaining their competency. We believe the best way to do that is to support the FMRAC PPI format of continuous quality improvement in health care. We’re very fortunate in Alberta to have organizations like Alberta Health Services, the Primary Care Networks, the Strategic Clinical Networks, the Health Quality Council and many others, all providing support in this area, which gives us a greater opportunity for success than in many other health jurisdictions in Canada.
We know the vast majority of doctors in Alberta continuously strive for continuous quality improvement. We also know that as this evolves, most will embrace this new approach to continuing professional development, but there will always be those who aren’t interested and will resist something new and different. I understand that and I appreciate that people will be skeptical about this new approach, but it is important that we start thinking about this now. The CPSA, along with most other Colleges in Canada, see this as a mandatory requirement in the future. As a result, you can expect participation in PPI to become a standard of practice for physicians in Canada in the near future. For Alberta, we will most likely have a standard of practice mandating the requirement to participate in an ongoing quality improvement program by 2022
As always, I welcome your comments and questions.