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Dr. Jennifer McDonald Wins Quality Improvement Award

Dr. Jennifer McDonald holds her award alongside Samantha Hamilton, Mary Yates, Dr. Shaun McGuire, and Dr. Alan Forster at the Telfer Centre for Executive Leadership.

What You Need to Know                       

  • Dr. Jennifer McDonald won the 2023 Telfer Award of Excellence: Leadership in Healthcare Improvement for her distinction in applying the quality improvement method and her leadership in promoting cross-collaboration with various healthcare practitioners.                                                           
  • The Telfer Quality Improvement & Patient Safety Leadership Program helps physicians and healthcare professionals become quality and patient safety leaders in their institutions. 

As Canada’s population ages, chronic pain is on the rise. One in five Canadians will experience chronic pain in their lifetime. This invisible disease impacts patients’ quality of life and is challenging to treat in a clinical setting. Even where there are resources available, such as multidisciplinary, publicly funded pain clinics, patients in Canada wait six months to five years to access them.

The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) pain clinic is one of these resources – an interprofessional clinic including anesthesiologists, physiatrists, pain medicine physicians, gynecologists, urologists, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, social workers and x-ray technologists. The clinic offers a variety of programs such as virtual workshops, virtual groups, and virtual/in-person individual one-on-one assessments and treatments for pain management. Currently, 340 patients are waiting to be seen at the clinic, with a wait time of one to two years from the time of referral to the first appointment at the pain clinic.

Dr. Jennifer McDonald, physician at The Ottawa Hospital set out to increase patient flow through the TOH pain clinic by 25%. Her project, RAPID: Rapid Access to Pain Intervention & Diagnosis; Fluoroscopy Suite Efficiency Optimization, aimed to reduce bottlenecks in resource utilization at the pain clinic that would free up more time for patient intake.

What Inspired RAPID?

Dr. Jennifer McDonald presenting her project to colleagues and the selection committee at the Telfer Centre for Executive Leadership.Dr. McDonald identified that a primary reason for the bottlenecks was the clinic’s fluoroscopy suite. The suite is used for x-ray guided interventions for diagnostic clarification and for treatments with therapeutic benefits such as local anesthesia, treating inflammation, or ablating the nerves sensing the pain. 

“One of the major root causes identified was inefficiencies in our booking template,” Dr. McDonald described. “For example, a potential fluoroscopy timeslot would be used to assess a new consult to determine if or what fluoroscopy procedure was required, and the fluoroscopy suite would sit idle during this time.”

Once the root cause was identified, Dr. McDonald and the RAPID team worked on implementing their quality improvement (QI) initiative. “Our primary intervention was piloting a new clinic booking template. We separated out consults from procedure visits and optimized our rooming processes,” she shared.

How is RAPID Creating a Healthier Canada?

Since the change to the booking template, the clinic has seen a 65% increase in procedures. “We have had positive feedback on the new clinic flow by patients, physicians, nurses and resident physician trainees,” Dr. McDonald recounted. “The resident physician trainees have had more opportunity for teaching and independent work experience. The patients preferred the shorter appointment times and shorter waitlist to be seen.”    

Dr. McDonald noted that leadership skills critical to the RAPID project included collaboration, stakeholder buy in, and bringing together a cohesive interprofessional team in undertaking a process change at the hospital. She was one of twelve participants in Telfer Executive Programs’ Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Leadership Program (QIPS) . During this 10-day program that runs over the course of 9 months, participants undertake a project within their health care institutions to improve quality and patient safety. Dr. McDonald launched the RAPID program under the guidance of Co-Program Directors, Samantha Hamilton and Mary Yates. 

She encourages others who have an interest in quality improvement and patient safety to join the program. “For busy healthcare professionals, it can be difficult to find the time to learn the necessary skills and apply those skills to a QI project. Without dedicating time to the design and implementation of a project and ensuring a systematic approach, making change within one’s organization can be nearly impossible. The QIPS program allowed me to dedicate time away from my busy clinical and academic schedule to learn new skills and apply them to a problem within the TOH pain clinic that pain clinic team members and I are passionate about.”

Dr. Jennifer McDonald stands in front of her project poster holding the 2023 Telfer Award of Excellence at the Telfer Centre for Executive Leadership.Dr. Jennifer McDonald is the second recipient of the Telfer Award of Excellence: Leadership in Healthcare Improvement for the RAPID project. She was awarded for her distinction in applying the QI method and her leadership in promoting cross-collaboration with various healthcare practitioners, allowing her to drive forward a QI initiative. Dr. McDonald demonstrated this in her project work, as well as in the high quality of her project poster and presentation. This annual award recognizes excellence in the projects taken on by QIPS participants as they work toward making strides in quality improvement and patient care. 

The QIPS program connects physicians and healthcare professionals across Canada who are looking to make an impact on improving quality and patient safety in their institutions. Hundreds of projects have been initiated to date in efforts to improve patient care and outcomes.   

To learn about how Telfer is working towards fostering a healthier Canada, discover the Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Leadership Program.

About the Author

À titre d'agente de marketing, Stephanie est responsable du maintien et de la promotion de la marque interne et externe des programmes pour cadres Telfer, où elle planifie, développe et met en œuvre un large éventail de stratégies de marketing. Stephanie est titulaire d'un B.A. en études de genre de l'Université Queen's, poursuit actuellement un baccalauréat spécialisé en journalisme numérique à l'Université d'Ottawa, et a travaillé auparavant en administration dans le secteur privé avant de rejoindre les programmes pour cadres Telfer.<br/><br/>As Marketing Officer, Stephanie is responsible for maintaining and promoting both the internal and external facing Telfer Executive Programs brand, where she plans, develops, and implements a wide range of marketing strategies. Stephanie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Gender Studies from Queen’s University and is currently pursuing an Honours Bachelor of Digital Journalism at the University of Ottawa.

Profile Photo of Stephanie Thompson