Recent changes made in Kelsey Trail Health Region have improved patient access to health care providers in Nipawin as well as the way patients’ appointments are scheduled.
Before the changes were implemented, there was no standard process for same-day appointments at the Nipawin Medical Group or the Twin Lakes Wellness Centre. Clinic appointments were only opened a month at a time, resulting in an inability for patients to make appointments for the following month until the schedule opened up. Patients often had to call back several times before they were able to book appointments. And, collectively, health care providers were seeing less than 100 patients per day 80 per cent of the time due to scheduling issues.
Through a Rapid Process Improvement Workshop (RPIW) event held in November 2014, a 30-day rolling schedule was introduced to allow patients to always have the option of booking at least 30 days in advance. That means patients no longer need to make multiple calls to book appointments that are within a 30-day timeframe. Meanwhile, a standard script was created to address same-day appointments, and the move to a rolling appointment schedule is expected to result in increased opportunities for patients to be able to book appointments on their day of choice.
“The benefit to patients by being able to get in to same-day appointments with their own provider will increase continuity of care.”
(Lindsay Langdon, patient representative on RPIW team)
As a result of the RPIW, new targets for improved access for patients were established, with the goal of having physicians and nurse practitioners collectively see 100 patients per day. This goal will be achieved by setting a 20-patients-per-day minimum for physicians and a 15-patients-per-day minimum for nurse practitioners, and ensuring a minimum of five providers are in the community at all times. Changes made to the scheduling of the health care providers will enable the physicians and nurses to work as a team, align skill tasks and provide a forecast for scheduling personal time that aligns with the rotating master schedule of weekend and call obligations.
“It’s a step in the right direction for improving access and achieving an important goal of accessing the appropriate provider at the appropriate time in the appropriate place.”
(Dr. Eleanor Francis, Twin Lakes Wellness Centre)
The RPIW event was a positive experience for those involved. An RPIW brings together a team of staff from various departments, as well as patient/family representatives, for a five-day continuous improvement process aimed at identifying and examining a problem, eliminating waste, proposing solutions and implementing changes.
“The week was great,” said RPIW team member Sherry Little, Nipawin Medical Group’s office manager. “It was based on every aspect of patient access in Nipawin. The standardization between clinics will certainly improve health care for all stakeholders involved. At the beginning of the week I thought we could not possibly do what was being discussed. And throughout the week and the RPIW process we began to realize that, yes, we can make these changes and sustain them.”