Partnership awards support health system improvement

16 June 2014

Three research projects focused on improving the delivery of health care have been selected to receive funding through CIHR’s Partnerships for Health System Improvement (PHSI) program and the Health Services & Policy Research Support Network (HSPRSN) Partnership Program.

Launched in 2005, the HSPRSN Partnership Program supports BC researchers in applying to peer-reviewed national or international competitions that address BC health services and policy research priorities and require matching funds as a condition of award.

Successful applicants receive up to $100,000 per project to investigate issues that address HSPRSN priorities and evaluate health system redesign or change initiatives.

Since 2005, MSFHR has granted 31 HSPRSN Partnership Awards totaling nearly $3 million.

The recipients of this year’s HSPRSN Partnership Awards are profiled below:

Advice Seeking Networks in Residential Long Term Care

> Principal Investigator: Carole Estabrooks
> Co-Investigator: Jennifer Baumbusch

Issue: In healthcare, social network analysis is often used to explore patterns of interaction between individuals within a single organization. Much less is known about the social (advice-seeking) structure between healthcare facilities, and between nursing homes, there is almost no information. For example, are nursing home leaders in touch with each other? Do the leaders of different nursing homes share ideas about quality improvement or other innovations?

Research objective: The purpose of this study is to identify existing advice-seeking networks among nursing homes in the Western and Atlantic Provinces, the Yukon, NWT and Nunavut. An understanding of this structure will help accelerate the adoption of innovations across the nursing home sector. This will be the first study in North America to investigate the informal social networks of nursing home senior leaders in long-term care, based on social network analysis.

iFOCUSS: Informing Future Orphan Drug Coverage Using Scenario Studies

> Principal Investigator: Larry D. Lynd

Issue: It has been estimated that approximately one in 12 Canadians suffer from one of more than 7,000 different rare diseases, and the number of rare diseases identified increases every week – especially with the emergence of personalized medicine. Orphan drugs used in the treatment of rare diseases are typically too expensive for most patients and their families; the cost of treating a single patient routinely costs more than $500,000 per year. The high cost of orphan drugs is resulting in a significant challenge for the health care system – in particular, pharmaceutical reimbursement plans, and has been identified as a rapidly emerging policy issue.

Research objectives: The primary objectives of this study are to:

  1. Identify future challenges of the development of drug coverage decision making models relating to funding of drug therapies for rare diseases. This will be achieved by conducting scenario studies with experts and key stake-holders, and by capitalizing on existing capacities and research initiatives within the CIHR-funded New Emerging Team for Rare Diseases.
  2. Use the findings from the scenario studies to propose policy alternatives for priority-setting and decision-making for expensive drugs for rare diseases.

Surgery Quality Outcome Reports  (SQORs): low-cost evaluation and spread of a surgery outcomes improvement program

> Principal Investigator: Roanne Preston

Issue: In 2011, the BC Patient Safety and Quality Council established the Surgical Quality Action Network (SQAN), which began participating in the US National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) at a cost of $5 million per year. Evaluation in the US shows that NSQIP enabled hospitals to reduce costly adverse outcomes, such as readmissions, extra procedures and longer stays. But participation is costly as it requires additional staff and time consuming procedures.

Research objectives: This study will evaluate the potential for use of BC’s central administrative databases for low-cost evaluation and performance feedback on surgical quality improvement initiatives, such as BC’s SQAN. Questions to be evaluated will include:

  1. What is the validity and relative cost of using administrative databases to produce routinely updated SQORs and to extend SQAN’s support of small hospitals?
  2. To reduce data costs and help spread to other jurisdictions, what is the feasibility and statistical power of a case-­‐control design for chart review and follow-­‐up phone calls?
  3. What trends in outcomes due to SQAN most reduced healthcare utilization and costs?