Get to Know Patricia Sullivan-Taylor, Executive Lead, Policy and Partner Engagement

April 25, 2017

Patricia Sullivan-TaylorOn April 10, Accreditation Canada (AC) announced the appointment of Patricia Sullivan-Taylor to the position of Executive Lead, Policy and Partner Engagement.

Trained as a registered nurse, Sullivan-Taylor brings 25 years of leadership experience in public health and policy-making to AC. Born in Jacksonville, Fla., she pursued her post-secondary education in Pennsylvania and has called Canada – and more specifically, Ontario – home for more than 20 years.

Sullivan-Taylor began her career as an ICU nurse in cardiac care before moving toward health IT and eventually health policy. During her 20 years in Canada, she has held leadership positions at PricewaterhouseCoopers, IBM, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-term Care and most recently, Health Quality Ontario (HQO); a provincial quality advisory body.

In an interview, Sullivan-Taylor noted that quality in health is a professional driver. “Quality is what I live and breathe. I believe quality is fundamental – both the importance of it with the client and in day-to-day interactions of care delivery and planning,” Sullivan-Taylor said. “As well, it must be facilitated by monitoring and quality improvement support at the provider, practice and system level.”

In Canada, Sullivan-Taylor noted, we are fortunate to have partners at the national and provincial level to enable the scaling of leading practices. Organizations, she said, like CIHI, the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI), the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) and the Change Foundation are essential to monitor, develop evidence and support quality at the sub-regional and provincial level.

These organizations, Sullivan-Taylor said, combined with quality councils in Ontario, New Brunswick, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, PEI and the Yukon all work to raise the bar on quality. “My aim is to tap into the knowledge and resources our partners can bring, so that we maximize the value of accreditation and global standards in context with local expertise and resources.”

Sullivan-Taylor noted that accreditation programs are valuable to health organizations and policy makers in several ways. She said that accreditation helps organizations design and implement evidence-based policies and practices with the support of independent assessment through third party evaluation.

She added that accreditation also enables organizations and providers to continuously monitor and improve quality care delivery – from their interactions with patients and families, to the governance and leadership culture level all the way down to their interactions with patients. “It sets a level of accountability for organizations to not only manage themselves, but also compare themselves to others,” Sullivan-Taylor said. “Having trusted tools to support comparison with peers helps organizations identify areas for potential improvements. It can also highlight areas of excellence where organizations may mentor and guide others.”

She added that accreditation is an ongoing process, as there is always something for health organizations and providers to improve upon. Sullivan-Taylor said that even when organizations achieve a leading status, they should then look ahead to their next improvement steps or how they might help scale a process across a region, province or the country. “There’s never an end-point to quality,” she said. “Better has no limit. There’s always a next step.”

Sullivan-Taylor noted that one of the myths of accreditation is that organizations believe that in order to be accredited, they already have to be good. “In my mind, it’s a bit of an oxymoron,” she said. “The whole point of going through the accreditation process is to see where you are as an organization and acknowledge the areas that need focus. It helps to get the whole team onboard with quality improvement and align with strategic priorities.”

She said that initially, the accreditation process allows organizations to understand how their current state measures up against the standards. “It’s a useful framework and Accreditation Canada provides not only the evaluation, but the peer support to help organizations in moving from their current state to something better,” she said. “That’s what quality is all about and I feel very privileged to be part of the team.”

Successful accreditation, Sullivan-Taylor noted, comes from a culture and a mindset of effective leadership. “It doesn’t matter what title people in the organization have,” she said. “What matters is that everyone in the organization has accountability to lead quality and to be responsive, working to deliver quality and to know what that looks like and to do their best.” She added that organizations that are leading the way in accreditation also have an important role to play; sharing their knowledge and helping to develop other organizations.

Sullivan-Taylor learned about AC during her 10-year tenure at CIHI, where she worked closely with several AC colleagues. She said that her interest in AC peaked with the announcement in early 2017 of a new alliance with Health Standards Organization (HSO). “I was really excited with the ambitious new strategy, new leadership and the opportunity to co-design and implement world class accreditation programs and tools to ensure better quality care with, and for Canadians,” she said.

Sullivan-Taylor said she’s looking forward to helping AC and HSO implement its new strategy and build new partnerships in Ontario, Canada and across the globe.