CEO blog: 5 ways we can improve the experience of care

It has been almost one year since I became President and CEO of Holland Bloorview and many have asked me what is the biggest difference in this role from what I’ve done in my career leading up to it. I answer that in health care outcomes matter more than in any other sector. What we do may be a matter of life and death. It is certainly about quality of life for decades to come.

Over the past year, I’ve been listening and learning, talking to our young patients and their families, our teams and leaders in the field. I’ve been thinking about how we can improve the experience of care and overall outcomes for our most important stakeholders: patients and families. Here are some of the ways I believe we are making a difference for our patients at Holland Bloorview and beyond, and where we can continue to do more:

  1. Strengthen our partnership with patients and families. Patients and families teach us a huge amount about what optimal care and outcomes mean for them. We know it is imperative to work closely with patients and families both in their own direct care and at organizational and system levels. This is how we can provide the safest, best quality and evidence-based care. This means weaving patient and family voices into everything we do – creating the frameworks and supports to ensure we are engaging with them in meaningful ways and measuring success. We’re proud to be viewed as leaders in client and family centred care and to join with other organizations such as Health Quality Ontario and The Change Foundation in sharing our collective expertise.
  1. Collaborate better across health care and beyond. Our goal is to build seamless services that make navigating the health system easier for patients and families. For Holland Bloorview, those collaborations are with acute care hospitals, community physicians and pediatricians, children’s treatment centres, adult rehabilitation hospitals, home care providers, and even community and recreation centres. We also collaborate with funders and public policy makers across a wide range of subject areas and geographies. For example, we partnered with charitable organization Support in Motion to ensure kids with spinal cord injuries have access to ongoing rehabilitation across children’s treatment centres in Ontario and launched a new chronic pain service with the Hospital for Sick Children, both with Government of Ontario support.
  1. Advocate for our patients and families. At Holland Bloorview advocacy is part of care, teaching and research. Our nurses teach children and families how to self-advocate. Through our Home Visiting Program, our medical students can better understand the lived experience of our young patients and their families, which help medical students become better advocates. Our family leaders are partnering with us to build awareness and help to create a more inclusive world for kids with disabilities. We can all draw inspiration by how our colleagues in the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation’s “End Stigma” and the “Bell Let’s Talk” campaigns are making a difference in society’s perception of mental illness.
  1. Support and build leaders of innovation. Ontario has an abundance of health care expertise, scientific strength and academic excellence at its disposal. Health care leaders need to be master communicators, interpreters of vast quantities of data and builders of teams. The Council for Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO) members are innovating constantly and we at Holland Bloorview will continue to enhance how research and innovation impact and improve the lives of kids with disabilities through the Bloorview Research Institute, our Centres for Leadership and in our partnership for commercialization with MaRS Innovation to allow us to move technology innovations into the hands of those who need them most, like the AT-Knee, a low-cost prosthesis.
  1. Empower our teams. One of the ways we empower our teams at Holland Bloorview is through Schwartz Centre Rounds. Last month I attended the 20th anniversary celebration of the Schwartz Centre for Compassionate Healthcare – of which Holland Bloorview was the first Canadian member. Keynote speaker Atul Gawande inspired us as health-care leaders to ensure the best life possible for patients however they define it. By offering at these rounds at Holland Bloorview we are giving our health-care teams the tools and supports they need to always deliver compassionate care. Promoting equity, diversity and inclusion among our teams and endorsing a new vision for strength-based nursing are others ways we are empowering employees on the front lines of care.

How would you build on this top 5? Do you have a different list? Let me know about your experiences and suggestions.


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