Using data to improve patient care


“The practice of medicine is an art, based on science,” said Dr. William Osler, a famous Canadian physician often called the Father of Modern Medicine.

Giving Alberta doctors more science to use in their practice is the idea behind Practice Checkup, a new tool produced by the College under the MD Snapshot banner.

Practice checkup

Last fall, every Alberta physician received a confidential Practice Checkup in their mailbox, full of practice-specific data pulled from College databases. Alongside was information about research-based risk factors to help physicians recognize and manage any potential risks in their own practice.

These reports are part of a new approach to self-regulation…
— Dr. Karen Mazurek, CPSA Deputy Registrar

Designed as a tool for self-reflection and quality improvement, the first Practice Checkup report received decidedly mixed reviews. “I thought the process was well intentioned, and the referenced data was interesting, but as a tool upon which to base my future practice decisions and direction, it was not helpful,” offered one physician.

md snapshot

The College hit closer to the mark with MD Snapshot prescribing reports, which gave physicians who prescribe opioids and benzodiazepines their own prescribing data and related it to best practice guidelines.

Physicians liked that the reports were detailed and readily applicable: “MD snapshot helps us easily identify which patients are on the higher end of narcotic prescribing and may need additional follow up,” said one in a feedback survey. More than 65% of physicians surveyed agreed the reports were useful, and more than half said they plan to use the data in the reports to improve their prescribing.

“These reports are part of a new approach to self-regulation,” says CPSA Deputy Registrar Dr. Karen Mazurek. “We want to be more proactive in helping doctors provide the best possible care by giving them good information and supporting them in making any necessary changes.”

“Having access to their own prescribing data was very helpful for our members,” she notes. “We want Practice Checkup to be just as useful.”

“To get there, we need to go through the feedback carefully and use what we learn to improve both reports for 2018. We also need to continue working with Alberta Health and other stakeholders to gather more data that will ultimately help physicians improve patient outcomes.”

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