Back to school to build capacity and improve health system performance

Welcome to HSP school  The HSP school provides the right tools and indicators to help manage the health system using data

CIHI’s data shows where health care in Canada excels and where it could improve. What we know is that not every province and region is equally equipped to use this data to improve its performance.

To help address this issue, CIHI held its first-ever Health System Performance (HSP) School in Halifax in October 2013, bringing together region-level stakeholders from across the Atlantic provinces to learn about and discuss practices within the health care system in their region.

The HSP school was led by Jeanie Lacroix, Manager, Performance Improvement and Capacity-Building, at CIHI along with her curriculum development team. Local experts also contributed as course faculty: Dr. Rick Audas and Dr. Roger Chafe, both associate professors at Memorial University of Newfoundland. The school provided its attendees with the opportunity to build their capacity, learn from best practices and work together using CIHI’s performance management tools, products and data to manage performance in the health system.

The HSP school is just one initiative in CIHI’s broader strategy to work with our partners in the system to build capacity across the country. It was developed with the intention of giving regional health authorities the knowledge, tools and information they need to effectively diagnose health system issues, evaluate those issues and develop an action plan to improve them. It also provides a chance for regional stakeholders and CIHI to work together and learn from each other’s experiences.

“Capacity-building is about working with our partners in the health system to analyze their needs and build better capacity around understanding and using performance measurement data, resources and tools in system decision-making,” says Lacroix. The school’s integration of real scenarios and case studies, along with best practices, is also critical to ensuring that the learnings are sustained and relevant to stakeholders in the system, she adds.

Pre-School Prep

In any classroom, planning is necessary to ensure success and make the curriculum relevant to participants. In that vein, needs assessment surveys were sent out to participants before the school began to identify issues and uncover improvement opportunities. This allowed the organizers to select appropriate and relevant indicators to focus on in the health system management scenarios, identify strategies for health system improvement using evidence-based research and develop an action plan for health system improvement.

With the key areas of focus determined, the HSP school was ready to open its doors to its first students.

Welcome to HSP School

The first bell rang on October 28 at 9 a.m. Thirty participants gathered in Halifax to begin the three-day workshop. The roster of attendees included VPs and directors, managers, health information specialists, analysts, consultants and coordinators. Over the course of three days, participants attended 11 sessions specifically designed to address issues they’d identified. They also heard from a number of external key speakers. For example, Dr. Alan Forster from The Ottawa Hospital presented a case study on diagnosing health system issues and targeting quality improvement, and Ms. Gail Blackmore from the Capital District Health Authority described an example of evaluating quantitative performance indicators.

In addition to a number of speakers, as well as sessions specially designed to address issues on the east coast, the curriculum included interactive group activities to put knowledge into practice. Experts were invited to take part in an interactive panel on HSP measures as drivers of change. The expert panel was made up of regional CEOs and performance measurement experts, including Dr. Jeremy Veillard (CIHI), Dr. Ben Chan (University of Toronto), Mr. Wayne Miller (Canadian Patient Safety Institute) and Mr. Bruce Quigley (Cumberland Health Authority, Nova Scotia). The expert panellists helped provide insight and feedback to supplement group work. This in turn gave participants insight on what could work in their region.

Continuing Education

Participants and organizers alike considered the pilot HSP school a success. Ninety-five percent of participants felt that the course fulfilled their learning objectives. There are lessons to be learned from every initiative, and the organizers are noting the recommendations made by attendees while planning for future schools.

Organizers were very satisfied with the event, acknowledging the importance of bringing the provinces together to learn from each other and share best practices. Situational case studies allowed participants to work on issues they face every day, and participants left with new insight and the tools needed to deal with them.

Organizers are currently preparing for two HSP schools in 2014. One school is proposed to take place in Winnipeg, targeted at representatives from various regions across Manitoba. The other school, in Toronto, will be targeted at participants from rural and northern parts of Ontario, where the need for capacity-building is greatest. Stay tuned!

For more information on the HSP school, including suggestions for future locations in 2015, please contact Jeanie Lacroix at