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September 5, 2017

The Brave New World of Health Quality Standards

The other day, I participated in a webinar for a draft presentation of Quality Standards of Care for Schizophrenia in the Community. As an individual with lived experience, my viewpoint was decidedly more prosecutorial than others in attendance. Why is that?

Arguably this past generation of people diagnosed with schizophrenia have, by and large, not achieved optimal outcomes. Relying on an evidence base of past “best practices” seems to offer modest improvement at best. Can we do better? And is anyone listening?

The daunting question of how mental health outcomes are measurable and held accountable is a common one throughout Canada. With the recent health transfer agreements negotiated between Ottawa and the provinces (each containing dedicated mental health and addiction monies), this will be a critical positon for all stakeholders to agree on.

The current fashionable term around this is “patient-first perspective”. This is all well and good, but how do we implement this in the real world?

I think somehow we need a meaningful dialogue between representatives of two solitudes: the professionals and bureaucrats who inhabit a stoic world of evidence-based protocol and standards. Opposing them (me among them) are the chirpy folks with “chip on the shoulder” narratives, and who want to talk about what statistics can’t measure – the quality of life and hope going forward.

So – who wants to try?

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