About QI at the DFCM

 Use these links to jump to the following information about the Quality Improvement (QI) Program:



A Message from Dr. Philip Ellison,

Fidani Chair of Improvement and Innovation &

QI Program Director

Health care in general, and primary health care specifically, is complex. In the context of new health knowledge, changing systems and technologies, and the motivation, behaviours and values of a diverse work force, there are significant challenges for us to achieve optimal population health outcomes, patient and provider experiences, at an appropriate value. Family physicians and other health care providers are driven to improve their work, yet are often frustrated in their attempts to do. Their external environment is increasingly asking for improved system performance, without the recognition that to do so requires knowledge and skills within the science of improvement, infrastructure that supports improvement efforts, and an organized and integrated community practice environment – none of which has yet to be realized.

The Quality Improvement Program seeks to advance primary care practice through the improvement of existing processes, the development of novel methodologies and the integration of community health and social agencies, as well as with other sectors – acute, rehabilitation and long-term care. We develop educational curricula and deliver programs for quality improvement and change management for health care trainees and practicing professionals. We assess and facilitate there-design of the micro-systems of health care delivery. Through work with university, government and community agencies we facilitate the engagement of regional partnerships to involve and empower their participation in more effective systems of care, as well as influence policy where we believe it can benefit patients and providers in primary care.

Improvement work is challenging yet exciting. It provides us with the opportunity to proactively improve the lives of patients and providers beyond the classic provider-patient culture of the past, to the team-system-population approach of modern day health care delivery. It is about identifying what we want to improve, designing and testing small incremental changes that cumulatively achieve powerful impact in how we provide care. It is about measuring to improve and about healthcare through interprofessional teams who enjoy having the obligation to reflect on the challenging questions that we face in our daily professional lives. It is about bringing the community into healthcare. It goes far beyond doing our job – it is continuously improving our work, and the satisfaction that results.

Philip Ellison MD, MBA, CCFP, FCFP 

Fidani Chair of Improvement and Innovation

Program Director, Quality Improvement



Our vision is for the Quality Improvement Program in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, at the University of Toronto, to be an internationally recognized primary care system driven by improvement and innovation.


The Quality Program of the Department of Family and Community Medicine will advance quality of care through improving care processes of interprofessional teams and networks, towards achieving better health outcomes for defined populations. It will enable the training of present and future family physicians in the knowledge and skills of quality improvement, change management and the leadership of teams.

The DFCM QI program will utilize a scholarly framework to develop and test education and practice methodologies, the program will guide and facilitate the advancement of primary care quality within the broader health care system.



In 2008, the DFCM completed a formal strategic planning process resulting in a Strategic Plan for 2009 to 2013: Primary Connections: Linking Academic Excellence to High Quality Patient-Centred Care.

As a pillar in its strategic plan, the DFCM adopted the incorporation of quality improvement as a program within its academic mandate to join existing programs in education, research, and professional development.

Started in April 2010, the DFCM Quality Improvement Program aims to set out the vision for improvement and innovation in primary health care.  



Strategic Plan

View the Quality Improvement Program three year strategic plan.  



Program Leadership


Dr. Philip Ellison, Fidani Chair of Improvement and Innovation, QI Program Director

ellisonDr. Phil Ellison led the development and implementation of a QI curriculum targeting primary care. It has been developed and presented to a variety of audiences over the past three years. Over 500 residents and over 200 faculty and related nursing, allied professional and administrative staff have been trained in QI and change management in primary care. At its 14 teaching divisions over 50 QI projects are being completed annually. An additional 300 community based physicians have been trained at events such as Family Medicine Forum and Primary Care Today.

Dr. Ellison has been a practicing physician for over thirty years. He is a physician advisor to the Toronto Central LHN and CCAC. As an Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine with cross-appointments to the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, he teaches courses within the Master of Public Health in 1- Practical Management Concepts and Cases in Leading Small Health Organizations, and 2-Leading Improvement in the Quality of Health Care for Community. In Spring 2014, Dr. Ellison was appointed the Inaugural Fidani Chair of Improvement and Innovation in Family Medicine.


Ms. Patricia O’Brien, QI Program Manager

Trish O'Brien

 Ms. Trish O’Brien is the Manager of the Quality Improvement Program at the Department of Family &  Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. Trish has been a registered nurse for over twenty-five years with experience providing strategic and operational leadership particularly in the realm of primary care and nephrology quality improvement. Prior to working with the University of Toronto, Trish held the position of Director, bestPATH, Capacity Building and QI Plans and formerly the Director of Primary Care with Health Quality Ontario (HQO). Prior to HQO she was the Director of QI with the  Quality Improvement and Innovation Partnership.

 Trish has worked in the community, hospital and private industry sectors before her focus in Primary Care. She has trained and been certified in the major modalities of QI including the Model for Improvement, LEAN, and Six Sigma.