Company: William Osler Health System
Innovation: Diversity Change Champions: Creating a Tipping Point
Award Recognition: Honorable Mention

William Osler Health System’s namesake, Dr. William Osler, once said “It’s much more important to know what sort of a patient has a disease than what sort of a disease the patient has.” This is challenging when patients are significantly ‘diverse’ (Osler’s community has the second highest number of immigrants in Canada) with differing practices and service expectations, health care professionals’ training is more focused on ‘clinical care’, and there is a significant number of staff, physicians, and volunteers to reach for introducing change (over 6,750 at Osler).

Osler’s goal was to recruit and engage change champions to create an environment where all value equity and access to quality and holistic patient-inspired care, and for a healthier workplace regardless of one’s ‘diversity’.

Equipped with diversity education, tools, and resources for dissemination and ensuring that ‘diversity’ is a regular conversation item, the multidisciplinary champions have created a ‘tipping point’ across Osler through innovative initiatives and integration.

They contributed to Osler’s Canada’s Best Diversity Employers Award 2013 and to Canada’s first Diversity Charter. As President and CEO Matthew Anderson said when signing the Charter, “Even when diversity is in your DNA it needs help and support. It is embedded in our clinical services, our human resource policies, and our workplace culture.”

The clinical/ non-clinical champions have grown from twenty-five in 2009 to one hundred, and range from front-line staff to directors. From one initiative there are now at least fifty.

Examples include: palliative care, in which Osler initiated a pilot connecting palliative patients with families abroad through technology; pharmacy, Osler reduced risks/barriers to communication and increased pharmacists’ understanding of patients; self-management program and the diabetes clinic: services delivered to patients in external community ‘clinics’ using a health equity lens; diagnostic imaging, initiated the use of portable phones for accurate interpretation; women/children’s, in which diversity resources were disseminated to clinical staff to promote more inclusive approaches to patient care; and decision support, in which patient data was collected analyzed from a diversity lens.

In the words of Nyla Chattergoon, Osler’s Decision Support Change Champion, “By understanding the perspective of others, we are able to develop compassion and understanding of others’ circumstances allowing us to view patients as unique individuals … not a diagnosis.”