Marrying Research Results with Health Service Decisions

    TORONTO, June 15 /CNW Telbec/ - When a regional health authority outside
of Montreal set out to make greater use of research results in planning how to
meet the health and social service needs of its diverse population, it went
all the way.
    "The stars aligned for us when the Quebec health system was being
transformed in late 2003 and we got the chance to connect the dots between
data and decisions," says Dr. Luc Boileau, CEO of the Agence de la santé et
des services sociaux de la Montérégie. "At that time many of the health and
social services organizations in our region were being merged or eliminated,
so we convened some of the top thinkers in healthcare in the province to help
us re-position the regional health authority. Today we are a different
organization from top to bottom - knowledge and research drive all of our
    So what exactly changed? As in all good marriages, close interaction
between partners and skilled communication around common interests produced
real and tangible results.
    Clinicians and managers now interact more closely with researchers;
knowledge is accessible and readily shared via new communication networks
among regional agencies and in the wider community; managers use research
evidence more consistently when they make decisions; professionals from a wide
range of disciplines use a distinctive "continuum of care" approach to meet
the health and social service needs of specific groups of people; and staff
have the tools and skills to better measure performance.
    "The transformation of the Agence shows that using research makes a
dramatic difference for everyone involved in planning and managing health
services," says Dr. Jeanette Ward, CEO of the Canadian Health Services
Research Foundation (CHSRF). "The Agence is blazing a trail, and the
Foundation hopes other organizations will follow. That is why the Agence has
been chosen as the winner of the 2007 Health Services Research Advancement
    The prestigious award honours individuals, teams or organizations that
have contributed significantly to the advancement of the health services
research community and evidence-informed decision-making in the health system,
and comes with a $10,000 cheque.
    In presenting the award Tuesday, June 12, in Toronto, Dr. Ward noted that
this was only the second time in the award's eight-year history that a
healthcare decision-maker has won the award.
    It was a researcher, however, who nominated the Agence for the Award --
Dr. Jean-Louis Denis, who holds the Governance and Transformation of Health
Care Organizations Chair at the Université de Montréal, co-sponsored by CHSRF
and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
    "The Agence has a clear strategy around knowledge use and management,
which is not always the case in a care setting or health organization," says
Dr. Denis. "There are not many like them in terms of clarity of strategy and
the seriousness of the commitment regarding knowledge management that flows
from the executive level."
    In 2004, the Agence set out to transform itself so it could address the
dramatic demographic, technological and epidemiological changes affecting the
Montérégie region and its approximately 1.4 million inhabitants. While the
Agence doesn't directly deliver services, it is the locus of control in the
region and has a mandate to ensure the provision of medical services, public
and mental health services, youth services, social services and primary and
long-term healthcare via a network of 11 local service networks and seven
regional establishments.
    Working closely with researchers, the Agence established and mobilized
networks to determine the needs of its populations, gathered and shared
evidence about how to meet those needs using local resources, and developed a
plan to assess outcomes.
    Spearheaded by a team led by Drs. Luc Boileau and Denis Roy, Director of
Information and Knowledge Management, with strong support from the CHSRF, the
change process continues within the region. Results include more engaged staff
and stakeholders, outreach to other health authorities in Quebec, more
effective operations, and the capacity to bring needed expertise quickly to
the decision makers in service agencies within the region. Dr. Boileau also
hints that strong relations with the research community have given the Agence
the opportunity to influence research priorities and design.
    In recent years, the Agence has tapped into the comprehensive suite of
tools, resources and programs offered by the Foundation. Dr. Boileau has
completed the Executive Training for Research Application (EXTRA) program as
has Jocelyne Sauvé, the Agence's Public Health Director. Two other members of
Dr. Boileau's staff, Philippe Benoit and Denise Bettez, are current EXTRA
fellows. Dr. Roy is a 2005 Harkness Associate, and the Agence is a CHSRF
Knowledge Brokering Demonstration Site.

    The Canadian Health Services Research Foundation funds and disseminates
health services research. It brings together researchers and decision makers
to ensure that the planning and management of our healthcare system is driven
by solid evidence.

For further information:

For further information: John Olsthoorn, (613) 728-2238 ext. 242;; "Making Research
Work / Pour que la recherche porte ses fruits",

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