Study will assess impact of quality improvement program on patients and

SASKATOON, July 28 /CNW/ - Researchers at the Health Quality Council and the University of Saskatchewan will be the first to rigorously evaluate a quality improvement program designed to help nurses and other care providers reduce the time they spend on administrative tasks or retrieving medical supplies, so that they can spend more time with their patients.

The researchers have received nearly $500,000 in grant funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation to study the effect of the Releasing Time to Care™ (RTC) program on patient outcomes (e.g., Does it improve patient satisfaction with care? Does it reduce readmissions to hospital?) and on the quality of work-life for nurses (e.g., Does it increase job satisfaction? Does it reduce sick time?).

"We also want to learn what factors in the ward, hospital, or health region influence the program's results. This information will be invaluable to others who want to implement the Releasing Time to Care™ program," says Marlene Smadu, Chair of the Health Quality Council.

Over the study period (July 2010-March 2013), RTC will be implemented on 33 hospital units (20 hospitals) in Saskatchewan and several hospitals in Ontario. The study will involve detailed analyses of care time data gathered by nurses during the course of their work as well as data from provincial hospital and health human resource databases, patient and nurse surveys, interviews of nurses and health care leaders, and analysis of relevant policy and procedures documents from hospitals.

The CIHR grant was awarded from its Partnerships for Health Systems Improvements (PHSI) program, which requires local and/or provincial financial partnership and participation of health system decision-makers on the research team in order to qualify for the grant program. 

Dr. Gary Teare, Director of Quality Measurement and Analysis at the Health Quality Council is leading the study. "This project received the largest PHSI grant in the country, from the Fall 2009 competition. It was also the only PHSI grant awarded outside of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. This was due, in large part to the enthusiastic partnership of the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, Saskatchewan Union of Nurses/Government of Saskatchewan Partnership, and the Health Quality Council." 

The Change Foundation in Ontario has also committed in-kind support for comparative research on RTC implementation in that province. The combined cash and in-kind resources committed to the three-year project from granting agencies and partners is just over $3 million.

The research team includes researchers from the universities of Saskatchewan, Alberta, Toronto and King's College London, UK. It also includes government and health care decision-makers from Saskatchewan and Ontario.

Co-principal investigators are: Dr. Gary F. Teare (Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan and Health Quality Council) and Dr. G. Ross Baker (University of Toronto).

The investigative team from Saskatchewan includes: Drs. Tanya Verrall and Ozlem Sari (Health Quality Council), Dr. Nazmi Sari (Department of Economics, University of Saskatchewan), Dr. Phil Woods (Faculty of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan), Dr. Elizabeth Quinlan (Sociology Department, University of Saskatchewan), and Saskatchewan health system decision-makers: Lynn Digney-Davis (Ministry of Health), Bonnie Brossart and Kyla Avis (Health Quality Council), and Lawrence LeMoal (Saskatchewan Union of Nurses). 

Investigators from outside Saskatchewan include: Dr. Anne Sales (University of Alberta), Drs. Peter Griffiths and Anne Maben (King's College, London, UK). Partnership in the Ontario research includes team members from The Change Foundation and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care.

The Releasing Time to Care™ program was developed by the National Health Service Institute for Innovation and Improvement in England and it is being used to improve patient care in the UK, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Australia, and New Zealand.  

The Health Quality Council is an independent agency that works closely with health regions, providers, and government to accelerate improvement in Saskatchewan's health care system. HQC is fulfilling this mission by measuring and reporting on quality, building leadership and capability for improvement, engaging providers, and informing health policy.

SOURCE Health Quality Council

For further information: For further information:

Sheila Ragush, Communications Consultant      

Health Quality Council

(306)668-8810, ext. 113,

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