Clinical biochemist Dr. Andrew Lyon is one of the many health-care employees, physicians, patients and other individuals involved in creating a framework for what services shared across Saskatchewan health regions might look like in the future.“There is a common understanding we need to build a health-care system that is sustainable, patient-oriented, high quality and safe,” says Lyon.

The health regions and Saskatchewan Cancer Agency established 3sHealth following a recommendation from the 2009 Patient First Review. Currently, the independent organization administers employee benefit plans, payroll, group purchasing and Gateway Online for all health regions in the province. 3sHealth, responsible for improving service quality while lowering the cost curve, is also examining opportunities for shared services within the health-care system. Once-independent-approaches between health regions and other health organizations are now giving way to collaborative models for sharing services.

Clinical biochemist Dr. Andrew Lyon in the St. Paul’s Hospital laboratory. 3sHealth is leading a process to consider various models delivery of medical laboratory services across all health regions in Saskatchewan.

Clinical biochemist Dr. Andrew Lyon in the St. Paul’s Hospital laboratory. 3sHealth is leading a process to consider various models delivery of medical laboratory services across all health regions in Saskatchewan.

Lyon became involved when 3sHealth assembled a team for a visioning session on medical laboratory services. Visioning sessions, opportunities to talk about what’s working, what’s not working and what could be changed in the future, are the first step of what’s known as business case development, a process that evaluates whether the quality of a service can be improved and costs reduced.

“My first impression was a mixture of hope and fear,” Lyon says of his first visioning session. “Hope to improve service by gathering the opinions of people who work in the area and share ideas across regions, and fear of what might change.”

“But I think there was a great deal in common with everyone who attended, from all parts of the province, all health regions,” adds Lyon. “We all told our story and it was often the same story. We shared our troubles with delivering services and our successes.”

The second step of the medical laboratory business case, gathering and analyzing data, is underway. Later, data findings will be presented to a lead and operations committee and gaps determined. The project team identifies quick wins for improvements and presents them in an interim report for committee feedback. A final report with recommendations is then generated for decision by the 3sHealth Board of Directors, CEOs of health regions and the Ministry of Health.

3sHealth works closely with regional health authorities, health regions, the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, Ministry of Health, health-care employees, unions and vendors on business case development. Recommendations for service changes in any area are expected to carefully consider five models:

  1. improving the existing service delivery;
  2. one region delivering the service to all other regions;
  3. 3sHealth delivering the service province-wide;
  4. a third party or outside organization delivering the service to all regions; or
  5. some combination of service delivery models.

3sHealth business cases currently focus on seven service areas: supply chain (including things such as purchasing and inventory control), medical laboratory, medical imaging, environmental services (such as biomedical waste), enterprise risk management, transcription, and information technology / information management.

Once recommendations for a business case are formed, a number of individuals from within the health system and government take time to review the work to make an informed decision.

Business cases for services in the supply chain, environmental and transcription areas are expected to be complete in spring 2014.

So far, one decision has been made as a result of the business case process. 3sHealth has announced a third party, K-Bro Linen Systems, will deliver the majority of laundry and linen services for health regions across the province. 3sHealth and K-Bro Linen Systems signed a contract December 12, 2013 and the transition to provincial linen services is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

Saskatoon Health Region has been working with K-Bro Linen Systems for some time and the third party will handle all processing and distribution of laundry in the Region starting in April 2014. All Saskatoon Health Region Linen Services employees have the option of employment elsewhere within the Region.

For more details about the work of 3sHealth visit