Jan. 20, 2022

Researchers team up to help guide health care policy in Alberta

Libin Health Policy Program aims to improve value and outcomes for cardiovascular health-care providers and patients

Health policy guides health care delivery across the province. Policy reform has the potential to improve the value of care, the quality of outcomes and the experiences of health-care providers and patients.

That’s why a group of researchers, led by Dr. Glen Sumner, MD, has formed the Libin Health Policy Program, a collaborative group that aims to advance cardiovascular health policy in Alberta.

“We are interested in the creation of meaningful, incremental improvement in Alberta’s health care system in the cardiovascular space,” says Sumner.

The group is investigating the province’s health care policies with projects looking at physician payment models, patient reported outcomes in atrial fibrillation, and the advent of virtual patient care for cardiac implantable devices. From a health policy perspective, the group is interested in structural aspects of the health system such as the influence of politicians in day-to-day health care decisions.

According to Sumner, there are four broad areas to consider when looking at health policy reform. These include fiscal sustainability of the system, quality and value and both patient and provider satisfaction.

His group is looking to address all four areas with a scientific lens while collaborating with other groups doing similar work within the University of Calgary, such as the School of Public Policy.

“Health policy reform is easier said than done,” says Sumner. “We have to really understand how things work and be able to test our proposed changes scientifically. This process includes input from patients and health-care providers. In addition, government health care decision-makers also need to be engaged to understand the perspectives of health care providers and patients.”

Sumner is optimistic about upcoming improvements in Alberta’s health information ecosystem, thanks to Connect Care, a new province-wide initiative that will change how information is used and shared between patients and their health-care providers. 

“The Connect Care system will generate a lot of data about how we deliver health care especially at the acute care level,” says Sumner. “That data will be very valuable to researchers and those interested in quality improvement and access to care.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Libin Health Policy Program, or wish to get involved, contact Sumner at glsumner@ucalgary.ca.

Dr. Glen Sumner, MD, is a clinical associate professor in the Dept. of Cardiac Sciences and Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine. He is a cardiologist specializing in cardiac arrhythmias and a member of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute and O’Brien Institute for Public Health.

Other members of this program include: Dr. Derek Chew MD, Mastoora Rizai and Barbara Torres, MHA