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 Wednesday. Jan 22, 2020

ISQua Podcast Series - Episode 4 - Humanizing Quality with Hugh MacLeod Featured


We were delighted to host author Hugh MacLeod for our fourth episode in the ISQua Podcast series.


The topic for this episode was: “Humanizing Quality and Patient Safety Improvement”


We do not make stuff in healthcare, we deliver care to people through people. When the relationship patterns between people are connected and healthy quality and patient safety magic happens, when they are not connected nor healthy, things fall through the cracks and patient harm and death occurs.


Sadly the human toll of quality and patient safety mishaps on the patients, families and care providers continues to climb and we know what has to be done...This quote from Mark Twain says it all..."It is not the truth that we do not know that does us in, but the truths we know and don't practice."




If you want innovation and quality and patient safety improvement then you need:

  • Teamwork and Collaboration...which requires
  • Communication...which requires
  • Psychological Safety and Interpersonal Trust...which requires
  • Active Listening and Empathy...which requires
  • Vulnerability...which requires
  • Self-Awareness and Self-Reflection....which requires


Human dynamics covers:

  • role of leadership
  • human systems and subsystems
  • human hard drives  
  • organizational white space between the black boxes on the organizational chart
  • absenteeism/presenteeism and its impact
  • organizational culture
  • speed, technology, volatility, complexity
  • the new consumer/patient 


Key Take-Away Messages 

  • Basically the healthcare organization you work in is a system of interacting human elements, roles, responsibilities and relationships.
  • Quality and patient safety are performed by your human-designed organizational structures, processes, leadership styles, people's professional and cultural backgrounds, and organizational policies and practices.
  • The level of interconnection of all these aspects will impact the distribution of perception, cognition, emotion and consciousness with the organization you work for.
  • What goes on between people defines what your health system is and what it can become.


About the speaker - Hugh MacLeod

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


For more information about “HUMANIZING LEADERSHIP” please visit


About the Fellowship Programme

The ISQua Fellowship Programme was created in order to develop a global community of learning and improvement in healthcare quality and safety. Our goal is to connect as many healthcare professionals as possible, enabling them to both share their individual experiences, and learn from the experiences of others.

We do this by fostering our community of like-minded individuals. All participants benefit from the three core ISQua values of Knowledge, Network and Voice:


  1. Knowledge: Learn from a wide range of international experts and start making improvements within your own personal context.
  2. Network: Expand your professional network, make new contacts and become a valued member of our community.
  3. Voice: Share your thoughts, ideas and opinions, and showcase your research with like-minded peers. Be recognised for your contribution to the community.


Click here to find out more about Fellowship Programme.



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We all have two vocations in health care – to do our job and to continually improve