By Dr. Oona Hayes

Focusing on “what matters to you” defines your values and preferences in the face of a challenge. The B.C. Patient Quality and Safety Council encourages providers to use this question as part of patient-centered care. Patients have perspectives and preferences that inform their care and support needs which we can only guess if we don’t ask. Asking ourselves the same question, as workers within the health care system, is the first part of the Joy in Work (JIW) framework described by the Institute for Health Care Improvement. Investigating “what matters” and using the JIW framework empowers providers to change how they work. Providers identifying their values are like travellers equipped with compasses. They choose the direction of their journey and use their compass to check their progress. The success of B.C.’s primary-care transformation depends on the ongoing participation of individual providers, and the JIW framework promotes this.

It’s a vital time to ask the ~1100 family physicians and family practice nurse practitioners who hold active user accounts to the Health Data Coalition’s (HDC) Discover application: What matters to you in your work? Where are the bright spots? What helps you have a good day? Let us look at what matters to each of us and our teams, patients and communities to inform our solutions to the primary care crisis.

While organizations and government work towards large-scale solutions to the crisis, providers and patients live with the system’s problems daily. Data from the Discover application helps providers understand some of the unique challenges of their practice population. Providers empowered with data can be creative and strategic to enhance “what matters” to them. For example, providers motivated to increase their availability for same-day illness presentations may consider the burden of chronic disease management in their practice and try different ways of delivering this care. For example, they might trial group medical visits with an allied health provider to ensure care continuity and monitoring, tracking effects on disease measures over time and patient accessibility.

The HDC’s core values align with the preconditions necessary for “joy in work”:

  • Physical and psychological safety
  • Meaning and purpose
  • Choice and autonomy
  • Camaraderie and teamwork
  • Fairness and equity

Aggregating our data empowers providers to inform health care planning and practice. Aggregated data provides snapshots of who is receiving care, along with care measures such as screening, recalls for chronic diseases, medication use rates, and by inference, who isn’t getting access to care, informing equity issues. As a physician-led organization, we know context matters, and providers know their context best, so their practice data is private by default. However, we also know providers learn from each other, and that safe, non-judgmental data sharing increases camaraderie and knowledge. A provider’s sense of purpose and meaning is increased by working on their practice, not just working in it. Discover is an influential tool providers can use to support “joy in work” projects.

Providers, myself included, have limited time and capacity to do extra work outside of our clinical time. The HDC and our partner organizations, the Practice Support Program and Physician Quality Improvement (PQI), want to empower and help us. I am excited to join Cohort 7 of Island Health’s PQI training. It can be worth our time to step outside of our routine if it means bringing more meaning and fulfilment to our work in the future.

Over the coming months, Dr. Cole Stanley and I will share examples of how providers can use HDC Discover’s measures to help them increase their joy in work. We will also share examples of high-performing healthcare organizations from around the world. In the meantime, I ask, “what matters to you?”