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Health System Research

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The Health Quality Council collaborates with health system partners and academics in Saskatchewan and beyond on research that can have a direct impact on patient care and patient outcomes. HQC’s researchers and research analysts are skilled in working with the administrative health databases that HQC has access to under a data-sharing agreement with the Ministry of Health.

Through various projects, such as collaborations with researchers at the University of Saskatchewan, HQC is able to fulfill its obligations under The Health Quality Council Act and make meaningful contributions to improving the province’s health system and patient care.

Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research (SCPOR)

HQC has partnered with several health and advanced education organizations in Saskatchewan to develop an application to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for co-funding a unit to support patient-oriented research in this province. The Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research (SCPOR) will be a partnership of numerous organizations from the health care and academic sectors that will bring together patients, health care providers, administrators, and researchers to answer questions and develop innovations relevant to provincial health improvement priorities. SCPOR will provide an opportunity to create knowledge through research that can inform provincial strategic health care improvement initiatives. In Saskatchewan, due to the efforts of health care organizations during the last few years to develop capability in continuous improvement, this knowledge can be translated quickly and reliably into practical improvements to patient care and experience.

Saskatchewan Drug Utilization and Outcomes Research Team (SDUORT)

The Saskatchewan Drug Utilization and Outcomes Research Team, known as SDUORT, is a collaboration between HQC and the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) to conduct pharmaco-epidemiological research. SDUORT, which is led by a U of S researcher and is funded by the Ministry of Health – Drug Plan and Extended Benefits Branch, undertakes projects to address the information needs of the Ministry and to help inform policy and drug-prescribing practices. For example, in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, studies were started on the following topics: the utilization of blood glucose strips in Saskatchewan; the association of blood glucose test strip use with hospitalization rates for hypoglycemia; and the utilization of prescription biologic agents in Saskatchewan.

Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network/Canadian Network for Observational Drug Effect Studies (DSEN-CNODES)

The Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network/Canadian Network for Observational Drug Effect Studies (DSEN-CNODES) is a national network, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which provides rapid research responses to questions about the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed in Canada. HQC serves as the Saskatchewan site of this national network of seven provincial/regional centres, with researchers from HQC collaborating with pharmaco-epidemiological researchers from the U of S. HQC’s collaboration in this national research network is helping to develop capacity in Saskatchewan for pharmaco-epidemiological research. An example of this work is a study published in the British Medical Journal in May 2014 about higher potency statins and the risk of new diabetes. In the 2014-2015 fiscal year, studies were started on two topics: The risk of serious cardiac events with the use of the drug domperidone in Parkinson’s disease, and incretin use and the risk of pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, and congestive heart failure in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Collaboration with the Rural Dementia Action Research (RaDAR) Team

A report released in January 2015 by the University of Saskatchewan-based Rural Dementia Action Research (RaDAR) Team and HQC provided new information on the scope of dementia across the province and offered five recommendations for action. The report was based on a study that included a review of best practices in national dementia plans from nine countries, an environmental scan of dementia-related services and resources in the province, and an analysis of linked administrative health data by age group, sex, rural/urban residence, health region, and database. As part of the project, HQC accessed, linked, and analyzed 10 administrative health care databases to help the RaDAR researchers determine the incidence and prevalence of dementia in Saskatchewan. The second report resulting from the RaDAR-HQC collaboration was also released in 2015, and is entitled Simultaneous Time Trends in Dementia Incidence and Prevalence, 2005-2013, Saskatchewan Canada. The research was supported through an Applied Chair in Health Services and Policy Research and funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, with in-kind support from HQC.

Computer Simulation Modelling of Health System Dynamics

In recent years, HQC has collaborated with U of S researchers to explore and develop the use of computer simulation modelling of patient flows in the health system. HQC has also worked with the Saskatoon Health Region and the provincial Emergency Department Waits and Patient Flow Initiative to develop statistical models to predict how many people are going to show up in the Emergency Department. Computer simulation modelling and predictive modelling hold the potential to help move the health system from its historically reactive approach to serving patients to a new one, where health regions and facilities have a better idea of expected demand and where service bottlenecks are likely to occur. For example, this information provides health regions and facilities with the opportunity to better arrange their staffing and availability of services to meet demand peaks. Computer simulation modelling of health system dynamics also enables health system leaders and policy-makers to look at the potential benefits of proposed interventions and run “what if” scenarios based on these interventions. This can help optimize health system investments and support evidence-informed decision-making in health care.

Research Collaborations with the University of Saskatchewan

HQC has collaborated with individual U of S researchers for more than a decade. However, in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, HQC signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the U of S, which formally establishes a framework by which the two organizations can engage in collaborative studies. These collaborations leverage subject matter and methodological expertise from the U of S in combination with the expertise that HQC has in using administrative health data in health systems and quality improvement research. The MOU enables HQC and the U of S to engage students and staff from both organizations in work that is of mutual interest to them and of interest to the health system at large. HQC is currently collaborating with U of S researchers on several projects that could directly impact the health of Saskatchewan residents.

Impact of Releasing Time to Care: The Productive Ward

HQC – along with researchers from the Universities of Saskatchewan, Toronto, Southampton (UK), and King’s College London (UK) – received funding to study the effect of the Releasing Time to Care ™ program on patient outcomes and on the quality of work-life for nurses. They also examined the factors at the ward, hospital, or health region level that may have influenced the program’s results. This research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, and Saskatchewan health system partners.

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