Dr Anne Kilgallen is Medical Director and Responsible Officer for the Western Health and Social Care Trust. She is the trust’s executive lead for quality and safety and is particularly interested in learning about leadership behaviours that can bring about genuine patient-centred organisations.

Anne has spent almost 20 years specialising in health provision in Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Most recently, she has played a significant role in reconfiguring her trust’s hospital services to create a safer, more effective services model.

Leading by example

Anne believes that for an organisation to change to consistently deliver high-quality care requires the application of proven techniques by motivated staff with improvement skills.

‘In the NHS, we talk about patients being central to everything we do, and we truly mean it, but making that a reality is much more challenging than many people realise,’ says Anne. ‘As an individual in an influential position in a healthcare organisation, I believe it is my job to make sure that everything that I do makes it clear that being patient-centred is at the core of our work.’

Turning knowledge into practice

While in Boston, Anne hoped to learn from organisations that have already discovered what it takes to be patient-centred, as well as those who are new to the challenge. She especially wanted to gain firsthand experience of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s (IHI) Triple Aim initiative, an approach developed by the IHI that describes a framework for optimising health system performance. She hopes to bring back fresh know-how and tools that can help her organisation develop.

‘I need to learn more about the evidence, the tools and leadership techniques I can use to spread patient-centred care organisation-wide. I want to develop the skills that will allow me to translate how to do it effectively and why.’

Reflection and implementation

Anne believes the single most important behaviour to change is her own, she said, ‘This year will give me the time to think through and learn how I as a leader can behave in a way that it is patient centred. I need to be able to show others how we can do it.’

When Anne returned from Boston, she intended to lead a review of the trust’s quality and safety strategy and implementation plan to apply the knowledge she has gained. She also worked with the postgraduate dean to design training opportunities to build junior medical staff’s capacity to drive continuing improvement.