Fraser Health EXTRA improvement project wins Top Innovation Award

Transformative cardiac care model streamlines procedures and reduces wait times

Ottawa, Canada – June 23, 2015 – The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement congratulates Fraser Health Authority on yesterday receiving a BC Health Care Award for Top Innovation, Health Authority.

Fraser Health EXTRA improvement project wins Top Innovation AwardCFHI nominated Fraser Health for the award, presented by the Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC), because of their innovative work in improving cardiac services. The ICED (Implantable Cardiac Electrical Device) project was designed and implemented through CFHI’s EXTRA program for healthcare improvement.

The Fraser Health Cardiac Service program was facing growing demand for its services with a rapidly growing and aging population. Wait times were above benchmarks for both inpatients and outpatients—61 percent of inpatients had to wait more than 48 hours and 78 percent of outpatients had to wait more than six weeks. The quality of patient care was being compromised because of the delays and cancellations.

Project lead Minnie Downey, previously Program Director of Cardiac Services and an interdisciplinary team of over 250 members including front-line cardiac and surgical services and other stakeholders, designed an evidence-informed framework to improve patient access to services, consolidate implant sites and enhance the efficiency of scheduling device implants and replacements.

Within six months of implementation, the ICED program consolidated and standardized cardiac services across the health authority from four sites to two. Cardiac implants increased from 22 per week to 30 per week, the waitlist was reduced from 120 to 40 patients and there were no cancelled procedure days due to lack of staffing. New wait time targets were met 80 percent of the time, resulting in a majority of inpatients receiving implants within 48 hours. Additionally, staff and patient feedback on the new care model and service has been positive.

The ICED program transformed both people and the system, with stakeholders from different sites now working collaboratively and finding opportunities to enhance patient care beyond the project requirements. Having set the standard for cardiac device implantation, Fraser Health Cardiac Services has since shared the success of ICED in a review conducted by the Provincial Health Service Agency in British Columbia, where work is currently underway towards the development of a province-wide plan.


  • The Fraser Health Cardiac Service program delivers cardiac care to a region of 1.7 million people, implanting more than 1400 cardiac electrical devices (pacemakers) a year.
  • Currently pacemaker implants are being done within the national standards of six weeks.
  • The EXTRA program for healthcare improvement supports teams for health executives to design, implement and evaluate evidence-informed improvement projects that focus on pressing organizational, regional or provincial/territorial priorities and challenges
  • There have been over 200 EXTRA improvement projects that have tackled a variety of challenges including improving access to primary care, reducing ER wait times and reducing inappropriate test and medications.
  • EXTRA improves the overall quality and effectiveness of the Canadian healthcare system – better decisions, supported by evidence from research to drive better care, better value and better health.


“The EXTRA program for leadership in healthcare improvement builds leadership capacity to achieve breakthrough innovations that improve health system performance and the health of Canadians.”
– Maureen O’Neil, O.C., CFHI President

“The EXTRA program for healthcare improvement was fundamental in helping us come together and be really innovative and ground-breaking in developing a new way of delivering pacemaker services.”
– Minnie Downey, Intern, Office of the CEO, Fraser Health Authority

“The ICED program is transforming people’s lives. Patients are not waiting as long for procedures and the quality of process and procedure has improved, so the risk of complications is much less. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
– Dr. Karim, Regional Division Head, Cardiac Surgery, Fraser Health Authority; Clinical Professor Division of Cardiac Surgery, University of British Columbia.


The Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to accelerating healthcare improvement by working with provinces, territories and other healthcare partners to promote efficient healthcare that delivers better outcomes. CFHI supports the development of innovations that could save provincial-territorial healthcare budgets over $1 billion per year. CFHI is funded through an agreement with the Government of Canada.

For more information, please contact:

Paulette Roberge
Senior Communications Specialist
Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement
W: 613-728-2238 ext. 288
C: 613-790-1070