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Partnership between health organizations supports clinicians working to improve patient care

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The KT Challenge is an annual program supported by a unique collaboration between PHC, VCHRI, and BC Cancer designed to support teams of clinicians who may not have much KT expertise, but are responsible for moving evidence into practice. KT Challenge teams receive comprehensive training, mentorship, and funding that enables them to build skills and confidence to implement and evaluate evidence- informed practice improvements.

Terry, Eleah, Evelyn and Samantha, a team of dietitians from BC Cancer, had always wanted to design and implement a discussion tool to support interactions between patients and health care providers. Previous research shows that discussion tools can improve patient-centred care and inter-professional shared decision-making. Looking for support to get started, the team applied to the KT Challenge program and was matched with a mentor from CHÉOS. Dr. Nick Bansback, Program Head for Decision Sciences at CHÉOS, agreed to mentor the team and enjoyed the collaboration, “It is a pleasure to work with individuals like this, and my part is small — to help keep them focused on the end goal,” he said. The ability to match teams with mentors and access expertise from other organizations is one of the benefits of the KT Challenge partnership — since the Challenge’s launch in 2016, CHÉOS Scientists have mentored nine teams.

Eleah Stringer, Samantha Gamble, Terry Lok, and Evelyn Wu (BC Cancer), and Nick Bansback (team mentor, Program Head, Decision Sciences at CHÉOS)]

“There are many benefits of working with my colleagues at VCH and BC Cancer on this program,” said Aggie Black, director of research and KT at PHC, and a CHÉOS Research Associate. “We share resources, pool our wisdom and help each other match teams with appropriate mentors and team members. We’ve even funded some regional projects to further support patients across multiple health care organizations.”

Collaborating across health authorities has created opportunities to build teams with clinicians from across organizations who share similar clinical challenges. These “mixed-teams” hold great potential for implementing evidence-informed practice changes across a wider clinical context, not just at one site.

Dr. Leah Lambert, Executive Director and Senior Scientist at BC Cancer, believes the future success of our healthcare system will depend on inter-sectoral collaboration and our ability to work across boundaries. “This unique partnership is a great example of what can happen when we reach outside our traditional silos to share knowledge, resources, and work toward a common vision of turning evidence into action to benefit the communities we serve.”

For example, the KT Challenge enabled a team of nurses and pharmacists from PHC and VCH to implement a Clozapine Took Kit at VGH to promote patient safety, and the results were impressive. The project led to an increased usage of the toolkit to 96 per cent of patients on clozapine at the implementation unit, and an increase in monitoring for symptoms of infection and myocarditis from 4 per cent to 96 per cent. Use of the toolkit now allows clinicians to monitor patients on clozapine in a standardized and consistent manner to quickly identify and treat clozapine side effects over the course of their treatment.

Dr. Joseph Puyat (team mentor, CHÉOS Scientist) and Michelle Carter (team leader, PHC). Missing: Colleen Borralho (VCH).

“It’s wonderful to work together as a team,” says Amanda Chisholm, senior manager, education and funding initiatives at VCHRI. “Our KT Challenge partnership allows PHC, VCHRI, and BC Cancer to be flexible and better respond to the changing health care environment. We are driven to support teams through the process of implementing practice changes that improve patient care and health outcomes.”

The KT Challenge includes intentional collaboration with patient partners from each health authority, who offer crucial feedback to strengthen the clarity and impact of the project. PHC patient partner Christine Wallsworth shared her perspective on the importance of including patient voices:

“As a patient partner I always ask ‘How will this research project and the knowledge gained from it improve the care of patients and their families?’”

People with lived experience are included in every step of the KT Challenge program — from planning to implementation and evaluation, including meaningful engagement of patient partners as key members of the KT Challenge Advisory Committee and peer-review panel.

“Having the opportunity to be a Committee member and overseeing the program was very relevant to me as a patient,” adds Kristi Coldwell, patient partner. “This ensures my perspective and voice are included at the very beginning of the process and that I have a role in shaping the program. I was able to offer tangible, meaningful ways to integrate more inclusive patient and family perspectives into the overall program and funding aspect.”

Barb Vincent, BC Cancer patient partner, shares her experience reviewing the projects as part of the KT Challenge Review Committee: “There is a lot of really good research that has been done and not being put into practice. I believe the patient is the ultimate recipient of this research, and including a patient partner on the KT Challenge will improve the success of implementation.”

By breaking down traditional health-system silos to share resources, foster connections, and model meaningful engagement of patient and family partners, this unique inter-sectoral collaboration is an innovative approach to building KT capacity across organizational boundaries. Sustaining this KT collaboration will help to advance shared learning and innovations at the point of care and ultimately improve care for those we serve.

Do you have an idea for a practice change? The Knowledge Translation (KT) Challenge is designed to support teams of PHC, VCH, and BC Cancer clinicians who want to move evidence into practice. Information coming soon on how to apply for the 2022/2023 KT Challenge program!

The KT Challenge program is offered in partnership with PHC Professional Practice, Providence Research (PR); Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute (VCHRI), VCH Professional Practice; and the BC Cancer Department of Nursing and Allied Health Research and KT. Program funding is provided by PHC, PR, St Paul’s Foundation, VCHRI, BC Cancer, and Transplant Research Foundation.