Self improvement

Much like the way we have adjusted our lives throughout the pandemic to follow the latest COVID-19 public health guidelines, hospital caregivers revise their approach to patient care when they can identify an opportunity to improve. At Royal Columbian Hospital, there has been a focus during the last few years on fostering a culture of quality improvement, and their efforts have resulted in some recent international recognition.

“We tend to have a good idea in healthcare what needs to happen to improve something like patient outcomes, infection levels, or length of stay,” says surgeon Dr. John Hwang, who helps lead quality improvement efforts at Royal Columbian. “But medicine and healthcare questions are so complex, it’s often more complicated than it first appears. It’s helpful to have a certain culture and a certain technique to get there.”

With support from donors and sponsors to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation, the hospital has launched dozens of initiatives in recent years to improve patient experiences, reduce hospital stays, lower infection rates, and decrease healthcare costs.

“The Foundation has really focused on frontline engagement and events that promote a healthy provider population, promote professional development and learning how to do quality improvement,” notes Dr. Hwang. “It builds a culture where people feel safe and comfortable to suggest new things and to keep on improving their care.”

The efforts have recently resulted in some accolades for the hospital. The American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) has recognized Royal Columbian as having achieved meritorious outcomes for surgical patient care in 2020.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” says Dr. Hwang. “One of the benefits of the NSQIP database is that we can benchmark ourselves against comparable hospitals around the world. And we came out in the top 15%.”

Dr. Hwang notes Royal Columbian signed up to the database 13 years ago, and there’s a lot of work that has gone into reaching this stage.

“We are among the highest acuity hospitals, and we have among the best results in the world,” he adds.

Hospital Team