Maintaining the healthcare system is hard work: My decision to the deep dive into Canada’s most complicated system

Contributed by Janet Song

OntarioMD is excited to partner with the Quality Improvement Practical Experience Program (QIPEP) at Queen’s University. Our two organizations share a passion for quality improvement in health care and a commitment to developing future health care leaders.

QIPEP aligns with OntarioMD’s EMR Practice Enhancement Program (EPEP) in seeking to enhance the quality improvement competencies of EMR users and students who will shape the future of health care increasingly enabled by digital health services.

In this blog post, Janet Song shares her perspective on how quality improvement will help practices, the impact of digital health, and more.


Why did you decide to join QIPEP?

My interest in Ontario’s healthcare system began with my frustration as a patient. It was a month of being ill in my second year of university where I was travelling from clinic to clinic, in a desperate search for a diagnosis. It was through hours in different waiting rooms, multiple retellings of the same medical history, and dealing with the inability to eat solid food, when a doctor finally decided to do a specific blood test for H.Pylori, when I finally discovered my illness.

Throughout this month-long journey, I became tired of complaining about everything wrong about my experience, and instead, I found the motivation find a way to improve the quality of our health care system.

It was through following the Queen’s Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Facebook page where I found the opportunity to receive hands-on experience to do research in healthcare quality and improvement at a healthcare institution.

As a fourth-year commerce student who is interested in experience in healthcare management, I am extremely excited that experience will enable me to do work that can directly support the improvement of hospital operations to better improve the lives of patients. My project is in the cardiology unit at KHSC which involves working with hospital workers in assessing sources of delay for cardiac order entries for doctors to order care actions for nurses on their patients.

Why do you think Quality Improvement is important to your future practice?

Quality Improvement (QI) is important for my future practice because of my interest in utilizing my management degree to socially impacting the lives of those, and healthcare management is definitely a place where I can positively make a difference in someone else’s life.

I want to learn how to manage certain components of this complicated system, and it begins with starting in a small component of the healthcare sector and learning how to improve the quality of it. It is through the process of the Planning, Doing, Studying, and Acting (PDSA) model in my work. This process will sharpen my research, planning and implementation capacities to not only practice healthcare management in the future but also better manage a complicated system to positively impact the lives of others in other fields as well.

Additionally, as an Ontarian, I deeply care about the future of this fragile system, and I want to be part of improving the system.

In 2017, Ontario was recorded as having the shortest waiting times on average in the country at 15.4 weeks, which is under Canada’s average of 21.5 weeks.

However, digging deeper into this information, the Government of Ontario continues to balance $312 billion ($122,919 per Ontarian) where the cost of healthcare is almost 40%, pushing out resources for other social services to maintain this expense and also paying for interest— which half of the education expenses.

The major question lies, how sustainable is our healthcare system? How much longer can an insurmountable amount of debt be maintained in Ontario?

What do you think of digital health? Where do you think it’s going?

The greatest demand comes from the area of the greatest need; the increasing senior population.

Ontario has a senior population that is aged 65 and over is projected to almost double from 2.4 million, or 16.7 percent of the population, in 2017 to 4.6 million, or 24.8 percent, by 2041. This population is living longer lives, the model of the emphasis of healthcare services in hospitals, the highest healthcare expense, transformed into a home care model.

How can Canada prepare for this great demand?

It begins with redefining care to support these seniors through homecare and digitizing the experience to efficiently distribute resources, minimize costs, and still deliver quality care. Consumer digital health tools increasingly will focus on chronic disease management.

Incredible organizations are taking great steps towards improving this complicated system such as SE Futures, the innovation arm of the home care provider Saint Elizabeth. They focus on priorities such as new senior living communities, patient experiences in-home (home self-screening), homecare experience, caregiver experience (chatbot support), and more.

 

I hate paperwork!

Submitted by Dr. John Crosby 

I am a family physician in Cambridge with 1,400 patients serving 2 nursing homes in an 18-physician family health team with 30,000 patients in total. I have spent 26 years as a physician, with 20 years’ experience as an emergency physician.

A recent survey in the Medical Post listed paperwork as the biggest stressor for physicians. Luckily for me, paperwork is a thing of the past as we have eliminated paper coming from hospitals and specialty clinics and gone digital using Health Report Manager (HRM). It was easy to implement, and both my office manager and I have found that it saves us time to focus on delivering better patient care.

HRM is simple to implement as OntarioMD does all the work in helping to get your practice set up. OntarioMD came into my practice to sign subscription and user agreements and TELUS helped with the set-up of the system. Report types such as imaging, emergency, specialist and other hospital reports automatically downloaded into our EMR system. This eliminated the need to store paper reports. If I were to get an MRI report showing a brain tumour, I can quickly call the patient in and refer them to a specialist.

I can also access lab results through my EMR via the Ontario Laboratories Information System (OLIS). I simply login into my computer and click on lab reports to view any abnormal patient results. If a patient’s potassium level comes back low, I can simply tell my office manager to tell they will need to change their diet or take certain medications.
One of the newer digital health tools I’ve connected to is eConsult. I can send a message and documentation to a specialist anywhere in Ontario without having to send my patient for an in-person visit. This means faster advice, usually within a couple of days, I can use for my patient who doesn’t have to wait months to benefit from a specialist’s advice.
These tasks are all done without paper. Prior to using an EMR, HRM, OLIS and eConsult, receiving, sending and viewing patient health information was tedious and time consuming. In the past, all my reports were mailed or faxed. We would have to physically travel to the hospital and pick up the paper reports daily. Then the paper report was scanned, the patient’s file had to be opened and the report dragged there. Then my office manager would mark it as seen by me.
With HRM, I see a patient’s report as soon as it downloads. With a couple of clicks, the information is posted into the patient’s chart. I no longer need to go to the hospital and wait for mail and faxes. Now I can receive specialist reports the same day of the patient’s visit all thanks to HRM. HRM also sends me eNotifications so I know when my patients were in the hospital and know that I can expect hospital reports to follow.
My practice is more efficient all thanks to my EMR and other digital health tools like HRM. They have benefitted my practice by:

  • Enabling me to find patient information quickly
  • Allowing me to spot trends and abnormalities
  • Providing faster patient follow-ups
  • Accessing specialist advice and getting responses sooner
  • Enabling more time spent on patient care
  • Creating workflow efficiencies
  • Less time spent on administrative and operational tasks

Physicians and other clinicians need digital health tools to practice medicine today. They really need the services of OntarioMD to advise them on how to go digital. You can start with one digital service and OntarioMD will help you integrate it into your workflow. Or, you can start with multiple digital health tools. OntarioMD can connect you to all of them and help you understand how to use them effectively to care for patients and to manage your practice. If you hate paperwork like I do, contact OntarioMD to get HRM, eNotifications, OLIS, eConsult or any other available provincial digital health tools (e.g., ONE® ID, ONE Mail, ConnectingOntario Clinical Viewer and more). Call 1-866-744-8668 or e-mail support@ontariomd.com.