Improving treatment for patients with chronic conditions

The Challenge: Patients with chronic conditions receive uneven care

As healthcare systems become more intricate, coordination of services across primary, secondary and tertiary care providers has become increasingly fragmented. Patients with complex chronic conditions understand this state of affairs all too well. To receive the care they require, patients often must navigate themselves among multiple health providers. As a result, they become highly susceptible to long wait times to see specialists, uneven care and poor outcomes.

The Improvement Project: Emerging evidence prompts officials to launch pilot

Margot Wilson and Sandra Barr of Providence Health Care in Vancouver, along with their CEO, Dianne Doyle, recognized that emerging evidence points to telephone advice lines as useful ways for family physicians to access specific counsel from specialists. To test established findings as part of their EXTRA improvement project, the two professionals launched a successful pilot project that enabled family doctors to page cardiologists and receive instant access to advice.

The Result: RACE expands successful pilot to cover 10 specializations

Encouraged by the results of the pilot, Wilson and Barr put in place a comprehensive telephone advice line to facilitate family doctors’ access to a variety of specialists. Operating during regular office hours, the advice line known as RACE (Rapid Access to Consultative Expertise) makes it possible for family doctors to call one number, choose from a selection of 10 specializations and speak to the kind of specialist they need—usually within a few minutes.

The Impact: Overwhelming success sets stage for provincial prototype

Early indications show that family physicians and specialists embrace RACE. Seventy-eight percent of calls are returned within 10 minutes, and 80 percent of calls between doctors last less than 15 minutes. In fact, doctors are often able to access the service while their patients are in the examination room. Family physicians report that 62% of the calls avoided a face to face consultation and 32% of the calls avoided an emergency department visit.

Given these overwhelmingly positive outcomes, Barr and Wilson are working with provincial officials to develop a prototype that can be used by family physicians throughout the province.

Margot Wilson image

Margot Wilson
Chronic Disease Management
Providence HealthCare
Vancouver, BC

Sandra Barr image

Sandra Barr
Regional Cardiac Program Director
Vancouver Coastal Health
Providence HealthCare
Vancouver, BC

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