Specialist Physician Initiatives Promote Innovation and Quality Patient Care

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - March 26, 2013) - BC's doctors and the provincial government have approved funding of $8 million for 21 physician-led initiatives to support innovation in the health system that will lead to quality patient care and the most efficient use of resources.

The Quality and Innovation initiatives were developed under the leadership of the Specialist Services Committee (SSC), a joint committee of the Ministry of Health and the BC Medical Association, which works to strengthen B.C.'s specialist care system.

"Specialist physicians are committed to providing the best possible care for patients," said Dr. Shelley Ross, president of the BC Medical Association. "With this funding, they will be able to put some of their most innovative ideas into practice with the goal that successful programs will be expanded to other communities. This is another example of how BC's doctors are strong partners in bringing about positive health care change."

One initiative on Vancouver Island, the TeleMental Health Collaborative Care Program, will allow telehealth video connections for consultations with mental health patients when an in-person consultation is not possible. This means patients will be able to get treatment without having to travel long distances. It also saves costs to the health care system, as out-patient mental health treatment is less expensive than treatment at in-patient facilities.

Another initiative will see the expansion of a program to promote recovery after colorectal surgery developed at Kelowna General Hospital to other facilities in Interior Health. The initiative saw improved patient outcomes while the length of hospital stay dropped from 12.8 days to four days, and the cost per case was cut in half from $16,000 to about $8,000.

"A wide range of exciting initiatives led by specialist physicians is being funded to help benefit patients and their families. For example, building a telehealth structure will provide specialist consultations in the patient's own community rather than having them travel to larger cities and will help ensure faster and easier access to care," said Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid.

Specialists submitted over 160 proposals. To receive the funding, the initiative needed to demonstrate that it will improve population health, enhance patient/provider care and reduce or control the per capita care cost. The SSC Quality and Innovation recognizes the unique contributions specialist physicians make and helps to support their active role in improving patient outcomes.

Funding comes from the Physician Master Agreement that designated funding for programs specific to specialists under the Specialist Subsidiary Agreement to enhance specialty medical services. For the full list of initiatives visit: http://www.sscbc.ca/quality-innovation-initiatives



Initiatives supported by the SSC Quality and Innovation One-time Funding include:

Information Technology

Integrate Data between Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Specialist Offices and Clinics - Cardiovascular Services - Lower Mainland (Funding: $249,500)

This initiative involves the development of an application that will allow both the specialist physician's office and hospitals access to patient information residing in each EMR database. This will make a positive difference because a patient arriving at a hospital clinic for treatment may have information on their EMRs but without integration, this data must be manually re-entered into the clinic EMR. This is time-consuming, expensive and inefficient.

TeleMental Health Collaborative Care Program - Vancouver Island (Funding: $212,464)

This initiative will support Vancouver Island Health Authority's development of an integrated TeleMental Health Collaborative Care program across Vancouver Island. TeleMental Health enables the delivery of services in mental health and substance use, where in-person consultation is not possible. This project will allow some mental health patients in rural areas to access more timely services without the inconvenience of travelling long distances.

Surgical Care

Enhanced Recovery after Colorectal Surgery (ERACS) - Interior (Funding: $499,739)

This funding will see the expansion of an enhanced recovery program for colorectal surgery patients expanded from Kelowna General Hospital to other sites in the Interior Health Authority. An audit at Kelowna General found that the mean for a length of stay in hospital dropped from 12.8 days to four days and the costs were cut in half, while at the same time patient showed fewer post-op complications.

Hip Fracture Care - Provincial (Funding: $770,205)

This initiative will support the co-ordination of best practices in hip care through the redesign of prototypes in each health authority. Simple measures such as early access to operative care and the involvement of ortho-geriatricians and internists as part of a multidisciplinary team have shown to be effective in decreasing not only complications and mortality, but the length of hospital stays.

Training and Professional Development

Enhance Skills for Emergency Physicians - Provincial (Funding: $498,000)

This initiative will fund training to enhance emergency department physicians' skills in the use of ultrasounds. The training focuses on the use of ultrasounds to guide inserting IVs that provide medication and fluids, and airway tubes to help a patient's breathing. Some emergency physicians have not received this training and it will help them to accelerate diagnoses and treatment.

Multidisciplinary Care

BC Inherited Arrhythmia Program (BCIAP) - Provincial (Funding: $499,241)

In British Columbia, there is a need for a comprehensive approach to the diagnosis, counseling and management of inherited arrhythmias with input from both Cardiology and Medical Genetics Services. A province-wide network will be implemented for referral and management of patients with inherited arrhythmias (IA) with two clinics, one in Victoria, predominantly serving Vancouver Island Health Authority, and the Northern Health (about 30%), and the second in Vancouver serving the remainder of the health authorities. This will allow physicians to better recognize those at genetic risk of premature sudden cardiac death and to support patients to put in place prevention strategies.

For the full list of initiatives, go to http://www.sscbc.ca/quality-innovation-initiatives

Contact Information:

BC Medical Association
Ann MacDonald
Senior Communications Manager
604 638-7849 or 604 306-1866 (pgr)

Ministry of Health
Ryan Jabs
Media Relations Manager
250 952-1887 (media line)