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Improving Breast Health Care in Saskatchewan
June 27, 2016

According to the Canadian Cancer Society advisory committee on cancer statistics*, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among Canadian women.

Located in Saskatoon City Hospital, the Breast Health Center (BHC) represents a dedicated team of breast surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, plastic surgeons, oncologists, nurses, mammography technologists and sonographers, medical office assistants, social workers and physiotherapists that provides Saskatchewan residents with the best, up-to-date standard of care in breast health.

During the first two years of operations, the BHC identified some gaps in the way they gather and collect patient information.

“Presently, patient intake information is collected via paper and pencil format, placed in the patient chart and not readily available for patient-oriented research, says Dr. Anne Leis, professor and head in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at the University of Saskatchewan. “However, other centers in Canada are moving to patient driven electronic data entry, which could also include collection of patient reported outcomes.”

Without this information it’s difficult to enhance patient care and streamline services, while creating opportunities for ongoing data analysis, and frequent evaluation of services.

In 2014, Dr. Leis and her team were awarded a SHRF Collaborative Innovation Development Grant to undertake the initial steps to become a rapid learning organization through the evaluation of current data and data collection strategies, and to pilot test a patient driven electronic data entry approach. A rapid learning organization is considered a gold standard in health service provision and entails collecting and learning from data, allowing for continuous improvement of care.

“What is exciting for me is the research questions arose from the healthcare system and users of the research,” says Dr. Leis. “It wasn’t just me as a researcher driving the study, and therefore, we established shared objectives.”

With a system that allows for easily searchable information, the hope is there will be less repetition in reporting from a patient’s perspective and more accurate information that will ensure that the patients are better cared for including those who tend to be marginalized.

“We are all patients, and at some point we will seek care,” says Leanne Smith, Director of Maternal Services, Breast Health Centre and Women’s Health Centre with the Saskatoon Health Region. “By providing this critical information we will be able to serve our patients better, and ultimately, improve patient outcomes.”

Research findings from this pilot work will establish a solid basis to study how the BHC becomes a rapid learning organization to strengthen Saskatchewan-based research and make Saskatchewan a leader in breast health.

*Canadian Cancer Society s Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2015.

Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society; 2015.[May 2015, adapted June 2015]. ISSN 0835-2976

Read more stories in Research for Health about the health research that is seeking positive impacts for patient outcomes in Saskatchewan.

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