Winter 2023 (Volume 33, Number 4)

Quality Care Committee Report

By Amanda Steiman, MD, MSc, FRCPC

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The mandate of the Quality Care Committee, true to its name, is to improve the quality of rheumatologic care delivery nationally. This can be viewed through patient-centered and physician-centered lenses: Quality care through patient lenses is a gold standard to which we all aspire — care that is safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient and equitable. We are compelled, however, to balance this against the challenges of rheumatologic practice in Canada: supply/demand mismatch, a dearth of funding for extended role providers, lengthy wait times, and increased complexity.

Indeed, now, perhaps more than ever, the impact of the unrelenting demands of clinical practice in Canada has come to the fore. Burnout looms large in the context of these “system issues.” Odes to physician wellness are no more than platitudes without a lever by which we can lower the (system) floodgates — if only by a little. Free massages or coffee (as nice as they are) will not address the root cause and allow us to move meaningfully forward. How can we deliver the best quality care when the odds are stacked against us? This question is at the core of physician-centered quality care delivery.

What makes the launch of Project Athena so exciting is that it is meant to tackle both issues. Project Athena has been championed by Ahmad Zbib and will be supported by Dr. Karim Keshavjee and his team at the SRA Academy, who will provide their expertise in digital lean sigma, to create an electronic medical records (EMR) output that makes life easier for clinicians AND captures core data elements for disease processes. EMR optimization and data quality subcommittees, comprised in large part of Quality Care Committee members, will serve as consultants, with opportunities for further CRA member engagement as the project progresses. At its core, Project Athena will work towards optimizing EMR workflows to ensure rheumatologists across the country are collecting core clinical data elements without additional effort. This, in turn, will bolster opportunities for quality improvement and for clinical and academic collaborations across the country while providing a tool to optimize care delivery.

I look forward to getting started with subcommittee launch meetings in the coming weeks, and to sharing updates as the project evolves.

Amanda Steiman, MD, MSc, FRCPC
Assistant Professor, University of Toronto
Staff Rheumatologist, Division of Rheumatology,
Mount Sinai Hospital/University Health Network
Rebecca MacDonald Centre for Arthritis &
Autoimmune Disease, Toronto, Ontario


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