A new primary health care model that aims to integrate patient care and minimize patients’ need to travel for different services is rolling out in Vanderhoof, as well as 13 other prototype communities across B.C.
In a two-day workshop last week, over 200 health care staff, physicians, and patients met in Vancouver to share plans for new models of primary and community care in communities including Prince George and Vanderhoof, as well as other communities in the Okanagan, the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island.
Vanderhoof’s model includes using an electronic medical record system to share information and communicate between family doctors and community clinicians. The new model will be patient-centric, more efficient and streamlined, said Vanderhoof family physician Dr. Sean Ebert.
“We were serving the same patients and sharing the same information already,” Ebert said. “This just means we can do it more seamlessly and quickly, to create a real inter-professional team between family doctors and our colleagues in home and community care, rehab medicine, mental health, and public health.”
In fact, the Omineca Medical Clinic is the first private clinic in Northern Health to share its electronic medical records with other health professionals to create a true inter-professional team, he said.
“If you look at a patient’s journey through the system right now, it can be very disjointed,” Ebert said. “Patients have to re-tell their story at every step and information may be missing or unavailable. That reflects problems in our system and doesn’t help with the patient’s care.”
He explained that in addition to sharing and synchronizing records, the new model can extend to specialized services and avoid the need for patients to travel out of town. A recent example being a video conference discussion with specialists in different parts of the province about a patient with complex needs. “Then entire inter-professional team was able to attend the video conference and provide input to come up with a plan for a complicated patient,” said Ebert. “It was a great example of team based care.”
The current provincial focus is on seniors care as they are a group of patients who have high complex needs and require coordination of services among teams, he added.
“The idea is that if we focus on seniors care and get all the integration work done properly…consolidating services around the patient and family,” Ebert said.
“We can be successful in other groups.”
The attendees of the workshop last week will continue to share new approaches to primary health care for the next three to six months. The work is part of a two-year plan across the provincial health system to improve care in the community for seniors, according to the Ministry of Health.
“We have been working with health authorities, physicians, patients and other stakeholders to develop strategies for real change in a number of challenging areas, with a key focus on more proactively responding to the needs of frail seniors,” said Health Minister Terry Lake, who attended the forum on the opening day.
“We are starting to see a more patient-centered approach come to fruition. I was inspired by the local teams’ levels of enthusiasm, commitment and dedication to seniors in providing greater access to supports close to home.”