Partnership with patients will shed new light on emergency care data in BC

A person gets their arm bandaged in an emergency department

Data access has been approved for a new study that brings together patients and researchers to improve patient experiences in BC's emergency departments. This is the first time patients will analyze existing data on care experiences in this setting.

Funded by the BC SUPPORT Unit, part of Michael Smith Health Research BC, the project is being led by the University of British Columbia’s Department of Emergency Medicine in partnership with the BC Emergency Medicine Network and the BC SUPPORT Unit.

“The best care is delivered by health systems that listen to and act on patients’ voices,” said Stirling Bryan, Scientific Director, Health Research BC. “That’s why the BC SUPPORT Unit champions the participation of people with lived experience in research. This work is vital for improving care in emergency rooms for people in BC.”

The BC SUPPORT Unit, part of Health Research BC, is a provincial initiative that champions the participation of people with lived experience and communities in research and improves ways to put this research evidence into practice.

The project will involve a secondary analysis of the Emergency Department 2018 survey data collected by the BC Patient Centered Measurement (PCM). Since 2003, BC PCM has conducted surveys on patient experiences across various points of care, including Emergency Departments (EDs). The first ED survey, conducted in 2018, simultaneously collected Patient Reported Experience Measures in conjunction with Patient Reported Outcome Measures. A repeat of this survey commenced in January 2021 and has continued annually, but this is the first time that patients have been able to help direct analyses of its results. PopData is facilitating access to the ED survey data via their Secure Research Environment.

“This project will provide a novel analysis of the 2018 ED patient experiences survey, in that the analysis will be shaped by patients themselves,” says Dr. Abu-Laban, Professor in the University of British Columbia’s Department of Emergency Medicine and past Scientific Director of the BC Emergency Medicine Network. “By identifying high-priority themes and determining research questions and methodology in consensus with patient partners, the resulting analysis will reflect a true instance of patient-centered research.”

In April 2023, the BC Emergency Medicine Network (EMN) transitioned to a Health Improvement Network (“Emergency Care BC”) under PHSA. Throughout the years of its activity, the EMN had patient partners serving on its advisory and management committees, and also recently launched a patient council. As a stakeholder in and contributor to the PCM ED surveys, the EMN was very well placed to conduct a patient-centered evaluation of patient experiences in BC EDs, drawing on the insights of established patient partners.

A patient-centered evaluation of the 2018 survey has been an EMN priority since its completion. Through the establishment of the EMN Scientific Program in 2020, the EMN created the internal capacity to execute this goal and in collaboration with engaged patient partners to develop a research and analytic framework.

BC EMN patient partners, recruited by the Patient Voices Network, were engaged to prioritize which aspects of the survey were most critical to the patient experience, based on their own lived experiences. With their guidance, the research team developed a set of research questions to examine the experiences of marginalized and at-risk groups in BC emergency departments.

“Patients deserve to be involved in research that affects them,” said Ed Martin, a patient partner volunteering with the project. “I’m grateful that my experience in the emergency room can help shape our approach to providing care.”

It is anticipated that the results of analysis will inform priority setting and future research by Emergency Care BC to improve clinical practice, specifically related to patient experiences within BC emergency departments.

“It is our hope that by using the BC PCM survey data to answer these questions, we can identify potential challenges and or gaps that may be negatively affecting patient care within BC EDs, and develop strategies to address them,” concluded Dr. Abu-Laban.