AIM Alberta continues to evolve the Collaborative model it pioneered across this province.

By consulting with stakeholders and refining its delivery, AIM is currently introducing fresh, innovative approaches – either underway now or soon to be implemented – with the goal of helping more clinics achieve improvements in access and efficiency. In the process, Alberta’s leader in primary-care quality improvement is achieving efficiencies in its own program delivery as well.

In partnership with the Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network in 2015, AIM began to deliver a ground breaking Collaborative – AIM 25 – in which AIM and the PCN co-design and co-deliver each Collaborative for that PCN’s participating clinics. This builds the PCN’s capacity while staying true to the access and efficiency principles AIM has refined over the course of its two dozen previous Collaboratives.

“AIM’s goal is that PCNs gain some ownership over how they support and sustain access improvement across their member practices,” says AIM’s program manager, Tony Mottershead. “We just want to provide the additional supports that will ensure success.”

The shift sees AIM continue to provide knowledge and expertise in the form of faculty, facilitator coaching and development, and online courses. At the same time it frees AIM administrative staff to work at arm’s length and in other capacities.

“The co-design process helps us to maintain the integrity of the principles, yet provide PCNs exactly what they need to achieve their priorities,” Mottershead adds.

AIM 25 is, however, an evolutionary half-step – presaging a more fully PCN-based Collaborative model now taking shape for delivery in 2016.

Indeed, AIM facilitators will play an even-more-crucial role as they continue to support teams in collecting data, identifying changes, understanding concepts and techniques, and implementing and evaluating those changes.

Meanwhile, AIM is exploring new modes of delivery for non-PCN-based, provincial Collaboratives. This could see further online delivery of learning and activity, resulting in further reductions in out-of-clinic time for clinics’ improvement teams. AIM is also exploring ways to remove the geographic barriers to participation – and take the collaborative to local sites.

Even the changes so far – including a curriculum overhaul last winter, which streamlined all facets of Collaborative delivery – have transformed the experience in profound ways, according to participants in this year’s Collaboratives.

“I think there are a number of positives since I first did the Collaborative,” says Rick Neuls, a physician with Edmonton’s Allin Clinic. A participant in AIM’s very first Collaborative – AIM 1 – he is back this year as part of AIM 24. “We’re a big clinic with some turnover” since 2007, he explains.

The positives, Dr. Neuls says, include CME credits; PCN support; workbooks and lectures that are more focused and user-friendly; and an “online presence that didn’t exist before,” in the form of web-based lessons. Though he finds the shorter action periods are challenging (a deliberate, tested, adaptation to the delivery model by AIM), he appreciates that his clinic now needs “less time out of the office – now just four one-day sessions.”

Other past participants appreciate that this year’s Collaboratives have been restricted to primary care clinics, rather than the broader participation seen in the past.

“Now it’s a more focused group for networking and sharing ideas,” says clinic manager Debra Richards, whose Westgrove Clinic is repeating AIM as a refresher for accurate data collection.

“There’s always room for improvement,” Richards says, “so we’re bringing our thirsty horses to water.”