Offering the latest news in health care quality and safety, the ISQua blog also features guest posts from the best and brightest in the industry.

By Hugh MacLeod Thursday. Aug 1, 2019


Improving the patient experience requires a change in culture. This change must be embraced by and reflected in the actions of everyone within the healthcare system. Furthermore, everyone must understand the fundamental truth that “quality and patient safety improvement” is an ongoing and healthy process of changing mindsets.


From my experience, the foundation for quality and patient safety improvement is comprised of the patient voice, practitioner ears, and organizational support.

It is imperative the patient is placed at the centre of every interaction within the healthcare system. Relationships between everyone involved in a healthcare event – including the patient, their family members, and care providers form the backbone of the healthcare experience. Prioritizing these relationships and listening carefully to the patient voice allows us to tip the scales to achieve a better balance between the art and science of healthcare delivery.


Stepping back from the patient, everyone in the healthcare system must share the responsibility for listening and watching for threats to quality and patient safety, and more importantly, speaking up and taking action when potential quality and patient safety issues are detected. If progress is to be made, the eyes, ears and hearts of front-line care providers and middle managers must be fully focused on the target of improving the patient experience.


In addition, healthcare organizations must demonstrate their commitment to quality and patient safety improvement and build an environment where patients, front line-workers and middle managers are comfortable expressing, and able to openly voice, their concerns. Moreover, the organization must hear what is being shared and investigate the information provided.


To achieve success, I believe we must humanize our approach and methods of leadership by promoting self-reflection, recognizing that people matter, and building relationships that make a difference. The strength and sustainability of an organization’s quality and patient safety improvement plan is determined by the harmony within and between all of its members. Ultimately, each member must be supported in order to lead self, and strive for excellence in the provision of patient care.


For more information about “HUMANIZING LEADERSHIP” please visit


Hugh has recently published his first book 'HUMANIZING LEADERSHIP: Reflection Fuels, People Matter, Relationships Make the Difference' which has been described as 'Candid, concise, and skillfully delivered leadership advice.'


The book contains contributions from 16 healthcare leaders for the 42 leadership vignettes used to illustrate key humanizing leadership concepts. These leaders include Wendy Nicklin (ISQua President) in the "Empathy A People Matter Foundation" vignette and Leslee Thompson (CEO of HSO & Accreditation Canada, and ISQua Board Member) in the "Renewal" vignette.


Hugh MacLeod retired as CEO of the Canadian Patient Institute in 2015. Currently, he is an Adjunct Professor of the School of Population & Public Health at the University of British Columbia


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