Since its inception, our organization has focused on a single, overarching goal: the improvement of healthcare in Canada.

A focus on filling the evidence vacuum

In 1996, the federal government established a $66.5 million endowment, which led to the creation of the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, or CHSRF. The organization spent its early years bringing researchers and decision-makers together to identify gaps in applied health services research, and funding the researchers who could investigate those gaps. In this way, CHSRF assisted in the analysis of Canada’s most pressing healthcare challenges and enabled improvements in the ways researchers and decision-makers shared information. The goal was to provide healthcare policy- and decision-makers with the robust, accessible research they needed to make evidence-informed improvements to healthcare financing, management and delivery.

A focus on using research effectively

Over a 10-year period, CHSRF received additional federal funding in support of its work. The funding helped establish programs such as Executive Training for Research Application (EXTRA), Capacity for Applied and Developmental Research and Evaluation in Health Services and Nursing (CADRE) and Healthcare Financing, Innovation and Transformation (HFIT).

The main challenge was to answer the question: How can decision-makers use evidence to bring about actual improvements in healthcare? To this end, programs such as EXTRA and CADRE supported (and, in the case of EXTRA, continue to support) healthcare leaders in their efforts to bring about improved quality and performance within their organizations. Also, we were innovators in bringing policy-makers and researchers together in the research process and in spreading their ideas beyond the traditional means through knowledge translation and exchange.

Our experience working with EXTRA graduates and the many other individuals with whom we have partnered has brought us a unique capability to facilitate collaborations not only across a broad spectrum of healthcare issues, but also across jurisdictions, regions, provinces and territories. For example, we can use the lessons learned from an EXTRA project in the Northwest Territories to address similar challenges with our partners in other regions.

A focus on implementation and improvement

Fourteen years after our inception, CHSRF—now called the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement, or CFHI—is uniquely positioned to bring measurable improvements in healthcare by drawing on the expertise we have helped nurture across Canada. More than 200 healthcare leaders have graduated from EXTRA alone, and all have brought change and improvement to their institutions, organizations, regions, provinces and territories. These individuals are senior leaders throughout our health systems and eager to continue their work with us.

A vision for the future

Our role today is to work shoulder-to-shoulder with healthcare leaders and policy-makers, helping them assess and articulate their challenges, helping them analyze relevant research, helping them contextualize the policy issues, and introducing them to effective change-management processes. As such, we are creators of a positive process that engages individuals and teams within their own healthcare contexts to implement and sustain much-needed healthcare improvements.

IHI Triple Aim: Alberta Health Services - Edmonton Zone

By shifting 1,750 adults with addictions, mental health issues and chronic disease away from costly acute care and toward more affordable community care, AHS-Edmonton Zone estimates it was able to reduce the average healthcare costs per individual.

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