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Patients as Partners - Share the Vision 2017
June 5, 2017

SHRF. SPOR. SCPOR. The list of acronyms goes on and on, but what do they all mean?

In many industries, acronyms become common practice; so much so, those engrossed in the day to day often take for granted what the acronyms stand for, let alone what they really mean. Wednesday, May 17, was a day to reconnect with those meanings. So, let’s break it down.

First and foremost, the day was about patient-oriented research, bringing us to our first acronym. The Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research, or SPOR, is a national initiative spearheaded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research or CIHR. SPOR is about ensuring the right patient receives the right intervention at the right time. The idea is that all provinces and territories will implement the strategy, following tailored timelines, specific to the provinces’ needs and resources. How will they do this? With acronym number three: Support for People and Patient-Oriented Research and Trials (SUPPORT) Units.

Saskatchewan’s SUPPORT Unit, the Saskatchewan Centre for Patient-Oriented Research, or SCPOR, officially launched on April 18. SCPOR is a partnership of organizations that support and promote patient-oriented research in the province. SCPOR is funded in part by CIHR, as well as both cash and in-kind contributions from the nine Saskatchewan partner organizations.

To provide the support and resources needed for patient-oriented research, SCPOR is organized into platforms designed to assist with connecting and working with patient and family advisors; methodological expertise; data access and services; indigenous engagement; and  translating evidence and implementing best practices. 

On May 17, SCPOR hosted Share the Vision: A Day to Learn and Connect, where the focus was patient-oriented research and engaging patients as partners. Patients add depth and perspective to research as experts in their own experiences. Patients add a focus to research that leads to improved outcomes. Patient-oriented research is research that understands that patients don’t want to be treated as a number, but as an equal, valued and respected member of the team. This type of research is not a new way of doing research, but a new way to come together to make a collective and impactful effort towards improving patient outcomes. Patient-oriented research moves from the traditional view of the patient as a passive unequal, to a partner with shared power and active participation.

With this new understanding of what patients bring to research, the day brought powerful messages and examples of how patient engagement can contribute to better care, better value, better teams and, ultimately, better health and care for Saskatchewan people.

Keynote Speaker Simon Denegri and Patient PannelSome highlights of the day:

  • Keynote speaker Simon Denegri, brought the United Kingdom’s perspective and experience involving patients as active partners of research. He shared the challenges faced and provided some solid examples of what the patient can bring to research. His advice: start small, focus on collaboration and build from there.
  • Poster presentations showcased a wide range of patient-oriented research already underway in the province.
  • Patient panel that included personal and compelling stories of why four patient/family advisors/peer mentor became actively engaged in research and what roles they play on different research teams to improve patient outcomes.
  • Highlight of the Indigenous Research and Engagement Expertise platform, unique to Saskatchewan’s SUPPORT Unit and providing guidance and support for researchers working in the area of Indigenous health.

Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation, or SHRF, our fifth acronym, took to the stage to share information about a new funding opportunity, the Sprout grant, for teams doing patient-oriented research. SHRF is one of nine provincial partner organizations that contribute to furthering the work of SCPOR, and help provide the necessary matching funding for CIHR dollars. By funding responsive, equitable, innovative and patient-oriented research that continuously improves the care and health of Saskatchewan people, SHRF is helping SCPOR build capacity and collaborations.

The Sprout grant cultivates patient-oriented research in Saskatchewan, supporting teams that engage patients as partners and includes researchers, health care providers and health system decision-makers. As research evolves to be more inclusive, so to does SHRF and its focus on how we support research being done. The Sprout grant, and that’s not an acronym, breaks away from the traditional, creating a vision of growth and renewal. This vision supports SHRF’s mission to create a vibrant culture of health research and innovation for a stronger Saskatchewan, nurturing the sprouting ideas of patient-oriented research.

Ideas Planted at Share the Vision: A Day to Learn and Connect

Participants checks out what's been planted on the SHRF garden display boardAmong the poster boards at SCPOR’s Share the Vision day was something a little different: SHRF’s garden board waiting for participants to plant their ideas. With the ideas planted, participants then had time to read and connect with those in the room as a first step towards turning ideas into action for patient-oriented research.

So, what kind of ideas were shared that day? Here’s a summary of people’s questions and ideas for patient-oriented research that have the potential to develop with patient input:

  • Patients/family advisors as educators/partners in health students’ studies
  • What is the impact of social media on the psychological health of youth?
  • Management/support to those using crystal meth, a growing problem in Saskatchewan
  • Exploring the patient experience and engagement facing the amalgamation of the health regions
  • How to integrate Indigenous medicines with western medicines in chronic disease management
  • Wait times for mental health assessments/diagnosis
  • Aging in place
  • Intergenerational community programming engaging seniors and children in physical activity and health promotion
  • What are the barriers people face in taking responsibility for their health?
  • Connect to existing patient/family advisory councils in the health region to discover a passion for improvement and a depth of lived experience that can resolve health system issues and improve patient and family centered care

New Ideas for Making Connections

SHRF’s session to introduce the new Sprout grant, titled Growing Your Ideas Into Funded Research, included a chance to brainstorm some ideas of how to make connections outside of your usual circles to find those patients, families and caregivers to become engaged members of a research team. Here are just a few of the ideas participants came up with:

  • Find research advocates in facilities
  • Community groups and leaders
  • Partner with schools
  • Connect through health care providers
  • Social media
  • Research open-house
  • Community forums and events
  • Remove barriers to participation, such as childcare or transportation

Learn More

If you’re interested in learning more about SCPOR or getting involved in patient-oriented research, visit scpor.ca.

To read more stories and see more photos from SCPOR’s Share the Vision day, click here.

If you have a team of engaged patients, researchers, health care providers and health system decision-makers, and you’re looking for funding to grow your idea into improved patient outcomes, check out the Sprout grant opportunity page and find full application details in the program guide. 

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