Everyone agrees – reducing the time each patient waits for care is important. From emergency departments to surgery, personal support to various therapies, waiting times have become one of the important benchmarks by which the quality of our health care system is measured. Of course, waiting times depend on a number of factors, like funding, availability of health human resources, communication, technology and finding efficiencies through streamlined processes.
North East CCAC physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists delivered over 92,000 therapy visits to both adults and children in 2014-2015. In fact, with the expansion to physiotherapy funding received in that fiscal year, the North East CCAC was able to decrease the number of adults waiting for in-home physiotherapy services by 44%!
Nevertheless, with growing patient needs for therapy at home, in 2014 the North East CCAC launched a multi-year Access to Care Strategy to further reduce therapy waiting times across the board for its adult patients.
One of the successfully implemented strategies from Year 1 was a self-directed, continuous quality initiative by therapy clinicians to implement various ideas that would form the strategy moving forward. A new steering committee was formed and tasked with ensuring therapy gaps are identified early and filled. A community of practice continues to evolve, as therapy teams work together to organize geographic coverage areas to reduce travel, triage patients, participate in interagency "shadowing" experiences, and refining effective clinical pathways. The use of Rehabilitation Assistants is being maximized, and the CCAC is ensuring clinicians have all required assessment and treatment tools at their fingertips.
In Year 2, the Access to Care Strategy will:
- Make greater use of ambulatory clinics, group treatment, and summer programs.
- Provide video-enabled treatment sessions and expand virtual care.
- Create eForms and charting efficiencies.
- Enable a mobile workforce through the use of available technology like tablets, apps, and Wi-Fi.
- Create a new multi-portfolio "SWAT Team" to look at the root causes of therapy wait times, chart the progress of implemented actions and evaluate their success based on established metrics.
The success of these initiatives will inform Year 3 of the Access to Care Strategy, with the goal of ensuring that people can count on receiving quick access to high quality care in ALL parts of Northeastern Ontario.