The lessons we learned from Cy Frank

26 Mar

Cy FrankCyril Frank, or Cy, as he liked to be called, was a visionary with a transforming vocation who accomplished a lot for the wellbeing and health of the residents in Alberta and Canada. Surgeon by profession, he was always interested by the challenges about the quality of services and health systems, very similar to those of AQuAS. He was a leader in his home country and he will be always remembered by people in Alberta and Canada, as demonstrated by the long list of messages, memories, thoughts, stories and notes of condolence that are published every day on the University of Calgary’s notice board. Where he was a professor. Stresses the obituary that the journalist André Picard wrote in The Globe and Mail explaining the variety of ‘hats’ that led Cy Frank over his life.

Beyond the quality of the health system, he was also concerned with promoting the evaluation of the social impact that health research has in his country. So much so, that he encouraged target setting when it came to research publicly funded by the Canadian government. He also promoted the exercise of accountability of the obtained results. When Cy Frank promoted ‘value for money’ the R & D biomedical system, only a few people were engaged and there was a lot to do. Here at the Agency, we felt the same while creating the ISOR Group.

For us, Cy Frank’s contributions in this area were very inspiring. The first enlightening source was the conceptual model called ROI, promoted by a panel of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (CAHS) headed by Dr. Frank, closely related to the concerns surrounding us.

Since then, the studies of the impact of research conducted in AQuAS have been based on this conceptual model. We were fortunate that Cy came three times to meet us: once in Málaga and twice in Barcelona. His advice still serves well us today. Here, we recall two of his lessons:

  • If you say you wish to evaluate, you know you’ll get it
  • Between the knowledge advancement and the social impact, very often there is a leader

The first lesson means that the evaluations are worth, at the end of the day, exactly what they’re upholding. The second lesson underlines the importance of the human factor in putting into practice the scientific findings in health innovations. What he used to call the ‘champions‘ were the promoters of change, and he was a prime example of those.

The Cy Frank impulse did not end here. In 2013 he supported AQuAS in the co-founding, together with RAND Europe and the agency Alberta Innovates Health Solutions of International School on Research Impact Assessment, and agreed to host the organization in Alberta after Barcelona. That is why on the last day of school in Barcelona, he and our director Josep Maria Argimon, exchanged t-shirts from Barça and Canadian ice hockey teams. It was like an Olympic torch passing of Barcelona’2013 to Alberta’2014.

From here, we’re also missing him very much.

Gaietà Permanyer, Imma Guillamon, Maite Solans, Joan MV Pons and Paula Adam

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