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Co-facilitator Dr. Patty Thille said it is "important to develop a health-care system that meets the needs of people wherever they are."

Workshops aim to strengthen health-care research in Manitoba

March 30, 2020 — 

Increased collaboration among health-care researchers, policymakers, clinicians and patients in the community will help build a health-care system that meets the needs of all people, organizers of a new province-wide initiative said.

“We need to strengthen our research capacity, especially at a time when there is significant health system change underway,” said Dr. Patty Thille, one of the event’s organizers. “Research capacity, in simple terms, is the ability to carry out research. It involves a range of actions, like enhancing skills and confidence at the individual, teams and community levels.”

In late 2019, Thille, assistant professor of physical therapy in the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, and Dr. Gayle Halas, chair of interprofessional collaborative practice for the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, co-facilitated a meeting, which was funded and supported by the Manitoba Primary & Integrated Healthcare Innovation Network (MPN). The two-day event that brought together 49 researchers, clinicians, policymakers and community partners from across the province to begin identifying priority actions to build research capacity.

Top priorities identified were a commitment to equity, the creation of a “centre of excellence” that would serve as a one-stop resource for primary health-care research, and establishing a cross-Manitoba network that brings patients, policymakers and community partners together with researchers.

“It is important to develop a health-care system that meets the needs of people wherever they are, as opposed to building models and systems that tend work best for people who already have a lot of resources,” Thille said. “It’s a really relevant topic in Manitoba, where we still have the legacies of colonial oppression and some pretty notable disparities.”

The original planning committee for the initiative that  includes Dr. Jamie Falk, assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy, Dr. Alan Katz, director of the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, and Dr. Roberta Woodgate, professor in the College of Nursing, has expanded to include MPN’s Policy Lead, Janie Peterson Watt, policy analyst with Manitoba Health, Seniors and Active Living, and MPN’s Clinical Lead, Tamara Buchel, director of postgraduate medical education at the Max Rady College of Medicine.

Going forward, the committee has included two patient partners, Dennis Maione and Mpho Begin, who were part of a group of five that took part in the November workshop.

“Dennis and Mpho were equal members in the discussion with research, clinicians and policymakers,” said Alanna Baldwin, MPN research and operations officer. “They were fully integrated into every aspect of the event as ‘lived-experience-experts.’ They were widely accepted by the other attendees, their opinions were embraced, and they really enjoyed the experience.”

A second conference will be held in the coming months, with exact location and date to be announced soon. There will also be a series of one-hour online discussions, the first of which will take place March 31 and is open to anyone who is interested. Because the discussion is online, it will not be affected by the closures related to the COVID-19 social distancing measures, Baldwin said.

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