Innovation in the Health System
(PRIHS), an initiative of AHS and
Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions.
In the surgery SCN, researchers are
working to improve patient healing
after surgery. Each year, about
230,000 surgeries are performed in
Alberta. Despite improvements to
surgical techniques and anesthesia,
many patients suffer from medical
complications as they recover.
Some have to be readmitted to the
hospital. Three years ago, the SCN
began using an approach developed
in Europe called enhancing
patients’ recovery after surgery
(ERAS) in Calgary and Edmonton
hospitals. Since then, post-surgery
complications and readmission rates
have dropped by about 50 per cent.
The project is funded by PRIHS.
“On a relatively small initial
investment, ERAS has already saved
the health system money, and this
Gramlich, who co-leads the study
with Dr. Gregg Nelson.
Another PRIHS-funded project is
by University of Calgary professor
Dr. Deborah Marshall, PhD, it
explores better ways to use the
province’s few arthritis specialists
(particularly orthopedic surgeons
“Specialists are scarce resources
and many different kinds of arthritis
care are available,” she explains. “Not
everyone needs to see a specialist,
but we want to make sure that those
who do can see one quickly. It’s really
about matching, about getting care at
the right level tailored to the needs of
The SCNs’ research and advances
are leading change in Alberta’s
health-care system. Mork says the
networks are making it easier for
patients to get care, boosting their
satisfaction with their care, reducing
recovery times and much more. “All
of this is leading to improvements in
the health system and a better quality
of life for patients.”
One of the next steps will be to
assess the SCNs, White says. She
leads a five-year study of nine SCNs
to evaluate their performance,
their relations with the public and
the health-care system, and how
knowledge is being translated into
The evaluation will identify areas
of strength and opportunities for further health-care improvements. “It’s
really about trying to give the best
care to all Albertans,” White says.
— Caitlin Crawshaw
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