We’ve spent 3,650 days together…but who’s counting?

You may be shaking your head in disbelief, but it’s true. On February 25, 2008, BCPSLS launched its first safety event report form. What began as one person’s innovative idea has now become an integral part of health care culture in BC.

So, how did we get here? Well, it didn’t happen overnight.

There were challenges, roadblocks, and even a political landmine or two. But these were no match for the skills, enthusiasm, and tenacity of the many collaborators who overcame them.

The journey began shortly after BC’s Health Authorities were formed in 2001. A dynamic committee of risk management leaders from across the province, chaired by Janice Butler (at that time with the Health Care Protection Program), began meeting regularly to share experiences, learn from one another, and leverage the new regional approach set by the Ministry of Health.

Within the first few meetings, Darren Kopetsky, Regional Director, Client Relations & Risk Management at Vancouver Coastal Health, brought forward the idea of an electronic incident reporting system that could replace the various reporting and follow-up mechanisms in place at that time.

“One of the main drivers for an electronic incident reporting system was the need to enable coordination of the various aspects of follow-up from a safety event investigation,” recalls Darren. “For example, if an incident involved safety of a patient, safety of one or more staff, function of a device, and potentially a complaint or even a claim, historically all of those streams of follow-up were not coordinated. We needed – and now have – a way for these separate systems to coordinate with each other so we could have a clearer picture of patient safety issues and how to prevent them.”

Annemarie Taylor, BCPSLS Executive Director, was at that time a member of the provincial risk management group and felt strongly that this new, electronic approach was needed. Together with the risk management leaders and other partners, she began formulating a plan.

The germinating idea was ready to start putting down roots.

A feasibility study was completed 2003-2004 to identify potential issues. Once the idea demonstrated its viability, the provincial Leadership Council offered its support and a rigorous requirements definition and request for proposal process ensued. After numerous vendor demonstrations, site visits to foreign lands, and selection committee debates, UK-based Datix was chosen to provide the software, with the talented Jonathan Hazan and his crack team of specialists.

In March 2005, leaders and partners were invited to a kick-off session of IRIS: the SAFETY Incident Reporting Information System, led by Provincial Health Services Authority, Vancouver Coastal Health, Island Health, and the Health Care Protection Program. Although the name would eventually be changed to BCPSLS, the idea was becoming real and excitement was building.



A lot had been accomplished, but one big question remained. How would this project get the funding it needed to get off the ground?

The answer came from Canada Health Infoway, an independent, federally-funded, not-for-profit organization committed to accelerating the adoption of digital health solutions across Canada. A grant was awarded, the BC Ministry of Health matched funds, and BCPSLS was off to the races.

The next two years were filled with planning, learning, and refining as pilot studies were carried out in various sites and settings, made possible by patient safety champions and collaborators across the province.

Implementation of BCPSLS began in 2008, led by Annemarie Taylor and governed by a Provincial Steering Committee presided over by Dr. Douglas Cochrane, chair of the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council and Provincial Patient Safety & Quality Officer for British Columbia. Manish Bharadwaj, partner with Deloitte, brought his team on to provide project management and implementation expertise. It was a busy and exciting time!

“Our first implementation was at BC Children’s and Women’s Hospital, followed within days by Interior Health,” says Annemarie. “I remember as we all held our breath, waiting for the first few reports to come in, and our collective sigh of relief as we saw the system being quickly adopted by frontline staff.”


BCPSLS implementation at Burnaby Hospital, Fraser Health, 2009; back row left-right: Kash Kainth, Vanessa Taylor, Chris Windle, Tammy Simpson, Jesse St. Mars; front row: Sharon Smith


While the system was being rolled out across the province, a Central Office team was established along with Coordinators in each of the Health Authorities. A process of iterative evaluation ensured learning from each site was incorporated into future efforts, enabling efficiency and better outcomes. BCPSLS Central, an online resource, was launched to share information about the system and connect users in BC and beyond with information, education and tools.

BCPSLS achieved its goal of full provincial implementation in 2011 with the rollout of BCPSLS in Island Health. The team’s focus then transitioned to optimizing the system to meet the evolving and emerging needs of BCPSLS users.

”We are a rare example of the successful implementation of a provincial healthcare information system, the result of a grass-roots initiative not mandated from the top down, with sustained and growing use over ten years,” says Annemarie. “We kept our eyes on the prize: fostering a culture of safety across the BC healthcare system. The patient safety landscape looks different now than it did when we began this journey, and while we are certainly not the only influencer, I believe we have made a difference.”

BCPSLS Central has since expanded to include a blog demonstrating the value of the reporting system by showcasing stories of improvement and learning that are widely read not just in BC, but across Canada and around the world.

In addition to focusing on patient safety, BCPSLS supports the work of Patient Care Quality Offices, risk managers, and special areas of interest such as adult abuse and neglect, patient and family reporting, and patient safety in trauma services. BCPSLS also participates in local, provincial, and national improvement efforts, international consultations, and has hosted delegations and visitors from several other provinces, and from other countries, such as Belgium.

BCPSLS was formally recognized in 2010 when Annemarie Taylor received an award for her Leadership in Quality and Patient Safety from the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council. In 2015 the blog was recognized with a Gold Award from Hermes Creative Awards, an international competition that recognizes organizations for their innovations in traditional and emerging media.


BCPSLS founders, partners, and staff celebrate the 10-year anniversary; left-right: Dr. Doug Cochrane, Georgene Miller, Jonathan Hazan, Darren Kopetsky, Janice Butler, Dean Bruce, Annemarie Taylor, Cathy Weir, Manish Bharadwaj, Michelle Preston; missing: Inderpal Chani; photo credit: Rob Lyons


The health care community in BC is clearly passionate about patient safety, and it shows in the support that BCPSLS has received from its users and from leaders over the past decade, support that continues to this day. Most important is the BCPSLS governance structure, an innovative approach to provincial collaboration that was critical to the success of the program in its early days and continues to be a strength today. The model of a Central Office team and Health Authority Coordinators has also been a success, and provides BCPSLS with its strong but adaptive foundation.


BCPSLS Coordinators raise a glass at the 10-year celebration; left-right: Leta Young (VIHA), Terri Aitken (VCH), Sarah Carriere (PHC), Andrew Hiob (IH), Meagan Sims (VIHA), Shawn Smith (NHA), Krystal Kersch (PHSA), Marco Zenone (FHA), Tammy Simpson (Provincial Coordinator); photo credit: Rob Lyons


It is impossible to list everyone who has been involved, so to all who have played a role in the BCPSLS success story, we offer a heartfelt thank you!

To celebrate our shared history and recognize the contributions of colleagues, partners, leaders, and champions, Central Office hosted a 10-year anniversary reception on February 20, 2018. Stories were told, memories were shared, and glasses were raised to toast the accomplishments of the past and the possibilities of the future.



BCPSLS Central Office team; back row left-right: Martin Jurkovic, David Gasson, Jesse St. Mars, Inderpal Chani, Catherine Reid; front row left-right: Kim Steger, Annemarie Taylor, Tammy Simpson


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