Every two years we put on a POLQM Laboratory Quality Conference here in Vancouver. The overarching theme is always the same - what’s new in laboratory quality for British Columbia and Canada and beyond. We focus on topics like updates on key ISO standards (like ISO15189 and ISO22870) and on understanding risk for medical laboratories (ISO 22367) and medical devices. All important topics for laboratorians to know.
This year we had an additional theme on “Meeting the Needs” with particular reference to Crosby and his definition of Quality as Meeting Requirements and the Measurement of Quality as the Price of Nonconformance, which we modified to the Costs and Consequences of Poor Quality, underscoring that all too often it is the customer who pays the consequence of our poor quality.
We had a lot of information on today issues like Quality Control of Cannabis and Impact of Gender Diversity on laboratory services, and the role of patients, and caregivers in the education of health professionals and learning the skills of Leadership. Plus much more.
From my experience putting on conferences is NOT a money generating activity. If we break even we consider that a success. If we lose a little or gain a little that is our target. (The university is pretty clear that we are not-for-profit, but we are certainly not-for-loss!!). If we take in a lot of money, that usually means that I charged too much.
What I enjoy from putting on conferences is the satisfaction of knowing that we contribute to quality education and quality improvement in a most immediate sort of way. People get together, they talk, they question, they challenge, they make presentations and verbalize what they are interested in, and then they go back to home with new thoughts, new ideas, with a new enthusiasm to create a better care environment for healthcare professionals and patients and their families and the community. It is a lot like our putting on our virtual classroom courses, but even more immediate and more intense. It is the ultimate quality and improvement moment.
Those who attended shot forward in their appreciation of how much laboratory quality is advancing. Those that did not, did not.
First let me emphasize that with our activities we focus on those present; and spend little time thinking about those who did not. But this time I feel compelled to comment a little to the negative.
From three jurisdictions we heard about spending freezes in healthcare, with particular reference to cuts in staff education. Lots of funding for leaders and administrators but none for staff education. Different funding pockets we were told; very unfortunate we were told; financial crisis management we were told. All of it BS. It gives us pause when we think about the current status of patient care when institutions put such a low priority on continuing staff education and quality improvement.
The most significant saving grace we experienced were staff members who traveled from afar to get to the conference, using their own funding and using their own vacation time to attend. These are the people who will save healthcare in the future.
We fatigue of the tiresome expressions of privilege and entitlement and arrogance in folks who should know better. Laboratory improvement is NOT derived from the high price help. It comes from the people who do the work of making laboratories better.
For people interested in seeing what we discussed at our meeting, visit https://POLQM.med.ubc.ca/2019-polqm-quality-conference/2019-conference-presentations/ after December 6, 2019.
When Quality Conferences end, Real Quality Improvement ENDS
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