Dr. Ian Schokking became the lead for the Research, Evaluation, and Quality Improvement (REQI) sector in 2019-20. He is looking at the different ways in which evaluation can be integrated into RCCbc’s projects and initiatives to both add value and enhance RCCbc’s role as a Learning Organization and is working with an external consultant to develop a structure and/or process that will enable future RCCbc work to have built-in evaluation as part of the project plan. He is supported in this work by Administrative Assistant, Bree Loeffler.
Several RCCbc projects – such as the Rural Surgical and Obstetrical Networks (RSON) and the newly launched Quality Team Coaching for Rural BC (QTC4RBC) — have included evaluation within their structure and are now collecting data for later analysis. REQI continues to collaborate with the Rural Education Action Plan (REAP) to analyze how BC’s rural physicians are utilizing the various REAP programs. REAP has also utilized the services of the REQI team beyond data analysis, asking the latter group to conduct a survey of BC’s health care providers to identify areas of need. The survey revealed that new to rural practice providers wanted greater supports for training, which prompted REAP to create the New Rural Physician CME program to address this identified gap.
Project Manager Adrienne Peltonen continues to support the administration of the Rural Physician Research Project Support grants and the Rural Global Health Partnership Initiative grants. In 2019-20, eight grants were issued to rural physicians interested in conducting research and becoming research leaders in their communities. Five additional grants were issued to rural physicians, or rural interested medical learners and trainees for the Global Health Partnership Initiative grant.
The work of Dr. Videsh Kapoor, the Global Rural Health lead for RCCbc, focused on issuing calls for the Rural Global Health Partnership Initiative grants, and reviewing applications for this fund. In 2019-20, five (5) grants were issued to rural physicians and medical students/residents committed to rural practice. There was an increase in the number of applications submitted by medical students and residents.
Dr. Kapoor met with several grant recipients to facilitate connections with other networks, people, and resources that may facilitate applicant projects. Grant recipients were invited to submit a poster presentation of their work as part of the 2020 BC Rural Health Conference, which was unfortunately cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. These grant recipients will be invited to present their work at the 2021 BC Rural Health Conference being held May 28-30 in Penticton.
The team at RHSRNbc – led by Dr. Stefan Grzybowski and supported by Network Coordinator Evonne Tran and research assistants Urvee Karve, and Diane Kim – worked hard in 2019-20. In addition to supporting and coordinating rural research events across the province, and awarding grants to rural researchers and research teams – activities that have long formed the foundation of the organization’s mandate to support and foster rural research in BC – the team at RHSRNbc also made advances in aligning itself with other rural research organizations across the province to build relationships, share and co-broker resources, identify overlap and areas of synergies that exist for current research support initiatives and activities occurring across the province. RHSRNbc coordinates a monthly meeting of The Research Support Group where members provide site updates on research-related activities. Representatives from RCCbc’s Interior Node and UNBC’s Health Research Institute became members of the group over the past year, joining CADTH, RCCbc’s Northern Node, and RHSRNbc at this table.
In 2019-20, RHSRNbc focused its annual research symposium around an exploration of climate change, resilient communities, and adaptation strategies for rural health services. The group developed a background paper to create a framework for the symposium through a series of literature scans and synthesis review. RHSRNbc held monthly meetings with RCCbc’s Climate Change Working Group who provided counsel, direction, and feedback for developing the background paper and the event content. The outputs RHSRNbc hoped to achieve with this event included: 1) developing a set of planning goals for rural communities to use/adapt with an eye to mitigating climate change and 2) generating researchable questions that will inform our progress towards those goals. Due to COVID-19, the symposium was postponed to a later date for fall 2020 or early spring in 2021. RHSRNbc is currently planning how to effectively virtually facilitate and engage participants at this event.
RHSRNbc continues to build on the GIS Catchment Platform project it initiated in 2017. Using ArcGIS Pro, the tool enables rural health services researchers to generate comparable data sets based on a one-hour health services-based drive time catchments. The GIS Catchment Platform enables spatial analysis on patient flow patterns with respect to the level of health services available in the community, including services such as maternity care, surgical services, and palliative care. To date, this tool has been used by the Centre for Rural Health Research, RCCbc’s Rural Surgical and Obstetrics Networks (RSON), and the Rural Birth Index (RBI) project. Future next steps for this project include preparation of a manuscript the methodology of catchments.
In March 2020, Network Coordinator Evonne Tran moved onto a new opportunity that combines her interest in design studies and Global Health. We are pleased to welcome new Network Coordinator, Arlin Cherian, to the role. Arlin a health services researcher with interests in perinatal epidemiology, maternal health and nutrition, and data visualization. She has previous worked with UNICEF, Vancouver Coastal Health, and other research institutions.