The pain in osteoarthritis patient Jean Miller’s left knee
prompted her to blaze a new trail for others in Alberta’s
evolving health-care system—as a researcher.
Miller, 68, of Calgary, is one of more than 20 graduates
of the innovative Patient and Community Engagement
Research (PACER) program. The year-long program by
Alberta Health Services and the Institute for Public Health
at the University of Calgary gives Miller and others a say in
how the provincial health-care system meets patient needs.
“For many people, having osteoarthritis means worrying,
uncertainty and fearing the unknown,” says Miller, who
until three years ago was a registered nurse and taught
nursing at Mount Royal University. She is now a patient
researcher with the Bone and Joint Health Strategic Clinical
Network. “I’m helping to bring the voices of more patients to
the health-care system.”
In the program, current and past patients learn formal
research methods and work with one of AHS’s 10 strategic
clinical networks to interview patients. The information they
gather is then used to consider how the health-care system
can be improved.
Miller says osteoarthritis patients waiting for treatment
to help other
Program brings more voices to health care
have many questions.
“What can we do while we wait with this chronic
condition that gets worse with time? How do we deal with
the vicious cycle of more pain, more immobility and gaining
more weight? These are some of the questions that arose for
our research team.”
The Bone and Joint Health Network is using this
information to transform osteoarthritis care for Albertans.
Dr. Linda Woodhouse, scientific director for the Bone and
Joint Health Network, says: “This has taken patient input to
a new level and provinces across the country are asking us
Tracy Wasylak, AHS’s vice president of Strategic Clinical
Networks, says Miller and others are making a difference.
“Clinicians seek their opinions and ensure that when
planning care, it makes sense for the patients.”
— Mike Fisher
For more information about the PACER program, visit iph.