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Listening to Patients and Improving Care

I recently watched a YouTube video that I’m sure a lot of people reading this will have seen by now because it’s received attention across the globe.

In this video, "I am a patient and I need to be heard" a 15 year old girl named Morgan articulately shares the frustrations she experiences with her care while in hospital. In less than two minutes she discusses not being allowed to sleep, not being included in the decision making process and a system designed around providers rather than patients.

I would like to think that if you brought Morgan’s entire provider team together to discuss ways to improve quality, with enough time they would identify all the issues she did. However, I am not sure this would happen and, more importantly, I am sure that if they simply asked her she would deliver the message to them just as clearly as she has to the rest of the world. Patients have a lot to contribute. For this reason, involving the patient is exactly what HQO is now undertaking as a core part of our activities.

As CEO of HQO and a practicing physician I believe that a quality agenda for Ontario must be inclusive of the patient perspective and wherever possible we should look to co-design our efforts and follow their leadership. HQO is far from alone in believing this. For example, hospitals like BloorView McMillan, the Hospital for Sick Children, Kingston General Hospital, and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, to name a few, all have a strong track records of very robust patient engagement. When I was Medical Director for the community based Inner City Health Associates, we created an advisory group of those with lived experiences. HQO will learn from these care groups, organizations like the Change Foundation and many others.

The importance of this undertaking has been articulated by Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Deb Matthews. When she spoke at HealthAchieve in the fall of 2013, she spoke to the importance of the patient to health system transformation and the need to move “from a system that provides care for patients to a system that provides care with patients.”

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