Pilot programs target health care improvements

The Nanaimo Division of Family Practice and Island Health are testing two new initiatives at the hospital this month.

New measures to improve health care are being put to the test by Nanaimo doctors.

The Nanaimo Division of Family Practice, made up of more than 100 local doctors, has joined up with Island Health to launch several pilot programs this month that will help improve the transition of patients from hospital to home.

Those involved say the initiatives are meant to empower patients by giving them more information about their care, from a hospital handbook to an expanded discharge summary that allows for the entire hospital team to write instructions. It is a “small test” of  potential health care improvements by working groups dedicated to looking at physician satisfaction, improved patient care and a more sustainable health care system, according to Leslie Keenan, executive director of the division.

Results of A GP for Me survey, distributed last year to gauge local health care challenges, is expected to help the division craft a proposal on how else it can tweak Nanaimo’s medical system.

“The thing that would be important for us as a community is that we are looking at things always with an eye toward sustainability. It can’t be a quick fix,” Keenan said of change to the health system.

One new pilot program will see 300 patient-caregiver handbooks distributed over the next three months to patients on the hospital’s first floor. The manuals explain hospital amenities and offer a check list to help prepare people to go home, including how soon after they need to contact their physician..

Lisa Holloway, Island Health’s project manager for community integration, said giving patients their physician’s contact number and informing them about the need for follow-up appointments can help prevent patients from being re-admitted to the hospital.

“It’s improving communication because we know that’s best practice,” she said.

There will also be changes to discharge summaries so other hospital professionals can write instructions for patients and their family doctors.

“Up until now we haven’t had that line of communication between the social worker or [occupational therapist]  directly to  the physicians,” Holloway said, adding communication only existed between physicians.

Keenan said the summaries will give patients documentation of what happened in the hospital, adding the aim is to see better transitions between hospital and home and improved care and efficiency.