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Public feedback is crucial to improving the quality of care

CIUSSS West-Central Montreal has come so far in its 2½-year existence that there was an unmistakable tone of confidence and optimism at our CIUSSS’s second annual Public Information Meeting earlier this month. I only wish that members of the public had attended in larger numbers.

I’m not suggesting that we wanted a bigger turnout to garner more compliments for our performance in 2016-2017. Rather, I had hoped to hear from people whose expectations were not fully met. Ever since our CIUSSS was launched, we embraced the philosophy that improvement can happen only if we understand where, how and why we fall short. While we do have tools to measure performance and satisfaction, there’s no substitute for questions, comments and personal stories.

Understandably, people tend to focus on two relationships. The first is between the government and the public—how well the government supports the healthcare system through revenues from taxes. The second is between the government and the CIUSSS—how well the CIUSSS can do its job, based on the funding and policies handed down by the government.

What’s sometimes forgotten is the relationship between the public and the member facilities of our CIUSSS. Certainly, we have an obligation—and a desire—to serve the public to the best of our ability. However, members of the public also have an obligation to play a greater role in their own well-being. Not only does this mean taking steps toward better health (such as getting a flu shot or quitting smoking), it involves becoming more knowledgeable about their CIUSSS.

As is the case in other aspects of health care, change will happen through education and by continually reinforcing this key message. By the time our next Public Information Meeting rolls around, I hope more people will be there to challenge us to do better.

Lawrence

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