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Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Merck Patients First Award?
The biennial Merck Patients First Award identifies, and formally recognizes, health care professionals, teams, administrators and organizations from across Canada who demonstrate excellence and innovations to improve patient-centred care.
There are up to 9 geographically-based awards planned for each cycle (up to 3 in Ontario, 3 in Quebec, 2 in the West (BC, AB, SK, MB) and 1 for the Northwest Territories / Atlantic Canada). The final number of awards will depend on the number of submissions received.
The underlying premise of the award is that patients are the centre, and the beneficiary, of considerations and decisions in health care policy and delivery. It is the key feature nominators search for, and communicate, in the Merck Patients First Award process.
The key components of patient-centred care are: timely access to care; care based on need and not the ability to pay; care delivered with caring and respect, with open communication among caregivers, patients and families; and, care rooted in a strong evidence base.
2. When / why were the awards created?
The Merck Patients First Award program was launched in 2013 by Merck Canada Inc. Three iterations were completed, and in 2017, the award format was changed to occur biennially (every 2 years).
The anticipated outcomes of the program:
  • Enhanced awareness and valuing of the Patients First philosophy of care;
  • Recognition of exemplary individual, team, administrator or health care organization innovators / innovations; and,
  • Supporting the development of leaders in the Canadian health care environment.
3. How are awards managed / adjudicated?
Governance: A committee including Merck and non-Merck participants oversees the awards, while an Advisory Review Board adjudicates the awards. External project consultants provide project management and communications support to both.
Advisory Review Board: Board members (the majority being non-Merck employees) adjudicate the Patients First awards. The external members are nationally representative health care professionals, administrators and communicators, including patients and invested citizens, with deep understanding of academic and real-world health care policy and delivery. Board members collaborate and contribute to the award vision and goals, but most critically, support the candidate selection, validation and rating processes, which are all modelled on Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) processes. For example, each submission story is independently reviewed and scored against pre-defined evaluation criteria by two board members before all members submit their ranking score. The Advisory Review Board is recruited and supported by the external consultants, Dr. Terry Montague (CareNet) and Joanna Nemis-White (Strive Health).
4. When / how do recipients receive their award?
Recipients will be notified in writing of being chosen for the award by Merck Canada Inc. within two months of the advisory review board meeting. Where possible, the nominators, who have been involved in identifying, writing up and submitting the award application in a story form according to the program guidelines may be included in award ceremony, scheduled to occur within 6 months of the award notification.
Formal public notification of the Merck Patients First Award recipients will occur, with their express permission, via the program website www.MerckPatientsFirst.com. As part of the ongoing knowledge translation planning process, more widely distributed communication of award winners, and their stories, is being planned through Merck channels, including social media.
5. What does the award mean for recipients / nominators?
Consistently, previous awardees have expressed an enormous sense of pride and appreciation in being recognized for their innovative contributions to patient-centred care by a formal and objective adjudication process. Their colleagues and readers of the casebook stories, including Advisory Review Board members, have admired their leadership and were inspired to adopt the innovative models of best practices.
Merck views the program as an opportunity to foster and help promote health care innovation in Canada.
From the viewpoint of persons who have been previously involved in the nomination and / or award processes, there is a universal sense of helping to make things better for their communities by having local innovations and innovators recognized – despite the effort involved in preparing and submitting a story application.
6. Who can nominate or re-nominate a health care professional, team, administrator or organization? How?
Who: Members of the Committee, the Advisory Board and Merck personnel can promote the Award but are not permitted to submit a nomination. Any other Canadian individual, health care professional, health care team, administrator or organization can nominate a Canadian healthcare professional (e.g., physician, nurse, pharmacist), health care team, administrator or organization for this award. Individuals can also self-nominate. Members of the Committee, the Advisory Board and Merck personnel or representatives are not eligible for nomination. No member of the Committee or the Advisory Board will be allowed to be included in the review process of a submission in the case the member has a conflict of interest with the nominee, including in the case the nominee is his/her immediate family (brother, sister, child, father, mother) or his/her legal or common-law spouse or is domiciled with this member. Only publicly available information should be utilized in the submission stories.
How: When the competition is open, use the online Nomination Form, to write a short text (500-1000 words) to describe the story of the patient-centred care innovation, highlighting five key factors of your nominee’s work:
Impact - current / anticipated impact of improvement in health practice / policy, e.g.:
  • patients’ perceptions of access, caring, respect, communication in delivery of care;
  • improved partnerships / networking / knowledge translation;
  • measured / demonstrated benefits to health / economic outcomes.
Innovation - degree of innovation / novelty in the changed practice / intervention.
Engagement - degree of buy-in / modeling across professional disciplines / public.
Relevance - Degree of likelihood to increase sense of value of patient-centred care.
Clarity - Degree of understanding for a public audience - plain language.
7. Should the nominated person / team be made aware of the nomination?
Yes, all nominees must be advised of and have agreed to their nomination prior to the submission of their nomination, as noted on the nomination form.
8. Is HELP available?
Yes, you can visit the Merck in Canada YouTube channel to learn about past recipients and their patient-centred care stories and or contact us at: patientsfirst@merck.com.
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