Quality standards are tools for helping our health care systems deliver consistent, high-quality care to support the health of patients and the population. They describe key aspects of high-quality services for a condition or topic to guide opportunities for improvement. Quality standards feature concise future-focused statements and indicators to measure progress that service as common goals to which our health care system can aspire. They are evidence-based and progress toward them will lead to better health outcomes.

We’ve launched a new quality standard for BC’s health care system that focuses on improving stroke care.

The Stroke Quality Standard supports:

  • People with stroke to understand key aspects of high-quality stroke care, and to make informed decisions in partnership with their health care teams;
  • Health care professionals to make decisions about appropriate care; and
  • Health care organizations to examine their systems and policies, and improve the services they provide

Who Leads Quality Standards?

Quality standards are a key element in the Provincial Health Services Authority’s clinical policy framework that aims to improve the quality and consistency of care for identified topics or conditions. The BC Patient Safety & Quality Council was asked to lead the development of quality standards because of our expertise on health care quality, our ability to coordinate action across the health care system and our unique role as a quality-focused organization outside of the direct delivery of care.

Stroke Services BC is partnering with health authorities to implement the Stroke Quality Standard. It will be used to prioritize and guide improvement work. Stroke Services BC will monitor progress using the indicators in the quality standard.

Why Was Stroke the First Topic?

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability, but in recent years efforts to prevent and treat stroke are leading to improvements in stroke care and decreases in death and disability rates in BC1. This quality standard provides a provincially coordinated approach to continuing this improvement by focusing on reducing unwarranted variation (variation in care received that cannot be explained by a patient’s condition or preferences2).

How Does the Stroke Quality Standard Improve Care?

The goal of the Stroke Quality Standard is to advance high-quality stroke care across BC. This is achieved by focusing quality improvement efforts where they are needed most, which provides common goals for which the health care system can strive.

It features nine quality statements which guide improvement work to where it can have the biggest impact on patients’ health and wellness. This can help minimize unwarranted variation in care, and support care that honours all seven dimensions of the BC Health Quality Matrix, while promoting cultural safety and equity. The included quality indicators help inform local improvement efforts and measure progress.

How Was the Stroke Quality Standard Developed?

We brought together an expert group, including people with lived experience, clinical experts, health system leaders and researchers, to guide the development of the standard and its Patient, Caregiver and Family Guide. Drafts of both documents were open for public review and the final versions reflect feedback received through submissions and an online survey. They have been endorsed by Stroke Services BC, which has begun partnering with health authorities and community partners on using the quality standard and monitoring progress.

Learn more about how patient partners helped develop the Stroke Quality Standard.

What Was the Public Review Process?

Draft versions of the Stroke Quality Standard and its Patient, Caregiver & Family Guide went through a four-week public review process to ensure they featured a broad range of perspectives and are applicable to BC’s population. During this time, the public review page was viewed over 2,600 times, the draft documents were downloaded over 300 times and we received over 400 responses to the online survey. This process aligned with our commitment to collaboration and transparency, and helped us to:

  • Confirm that the Stroke Quality Standard is targeted appropriately to improve stroke services at a system level;
  • Determine if the quality standard identifies key areas for improvement during the care journey;
  • Verify that the quality standard is applicable across all regions of the province;
  • Establish that the proposed indicators will support improvement activities and monitoring progress; and
  • Ensure that the quality standard is appropriately worded for the target audiences (e.g., patients, caregivers, families, health care professionals and health care organizations).

Contact us to share feedback on the Stroke Quality Standard and its use.

1 Canadian Institute for Health Information. CIHI Portal [Internet]; 2003 [cited 17 February 2021]. Available from https://secure.cihi.ca/cas/login

2 Unwarranted clinical variation resources [Internet]. Agency for Clinical Innovation; [Date Unknown][cited 21 July 2021]. Available from: https://aci.health.nsw.gov.au/resources/unwarranted-clinical-variation