Written by Dr. Roy Morton, VP Medicine
Across the country – and in fact all over the world – conversations amongst health care leaders are tuned towards this concept of “shift” we talk about it so much in Fraser Health. When we talk about the shift, we are talking about moving away from a system that relies heavily on hospitals and towards a system that promotes health and wellness, prevention and management. Refining our use of hospitals and expanding community services are two ways to create a more sustainable system that better supports the health needs of our communities and citizens. Fraser Health is well positioned to make this shift a reality. Our vision Better health. Best in health care. has long stood for our organizational commitment to help people be well, stay well, get well, or manage better and when they are sick or injured, to deliver the very best care we can.
Our executive team members are committed to making decisions and organizing their portfolios to best support our efforts. I’d like to introduce them and let them tell you how they are supporting Fraser Health’s vision of Better health. Best in health care.
The 2000+ physicians working in Fraser Health and Fraser Health communities are essential partners as we move forward with our work to shift to community-based systems of care. Under the leadership of Dr. Morton, the Medicine and Medical Affairs team is working on many fronts to develop stronger and more collaborative relationships with our physician colleagues.
I’d like to introduce you to Dr. Roy Morton, Vice President Medicine.
“What would you do?”
This is the question I find myself asking my physician colleagues when faced with some of the challenging issues we face every day in Fraser Health. I ask this question because I believe that strong partnerships with our physicians – both Fraser Health staff physicians and our community GPs and specialists – is a critical success factor as we make the shift from hospital-based care to community-centred care for our patients, residents and clients.
I’m focusing on three key areas in Medicine in order to help support our physician partners and ensure accountability for both physicians and Fraser Health to better serve our communities. These include:
Updates to medical staff rules and accountability frameworks
Review and enhancement of the medical affairs portfolio
Some of the work that is being undertaken in Medical Affairs includes updating the rules that govern the conduct and accountability of medical staff. Physicians have a responsibility to the patients and communities we serve to ensure the highest standards of safe, effective and appropriate care. The medical staff association at each of our hospitals will have the opportunity to provide feedback on our new accountability framework.
Physician and staff engagement is a strategic priority for Fraser Health for a reason – it’s essential for good patient care. As we begin discussions across the province about the development of Primary Care Homes it has become clear that GPs and the Divisions of Family Practice will drive how Primary Care Homes show up in each of our communities. This highly localized approach will ensure that communities build health services which are the best fit for their unique populations and health profiles.
In order to successfully drive change in health care we need to have a clear vision of what engagement with our physicians looks like. We are all working towards the common goals of better health for our communities and best health care for our patients.
Traditionally we’ve worried about how busy physicians are so we’ve come to them with a solution rather than with the problem because we believed that we were saving them time. I’m encouraging Fraser Health leaders to involve physicians (as well as patients and staff) as soon as we identify opportunities for improvement so we can work together to find the right solutions.
When we engage early, our physicians and staff own the solution and become invested in making it work. They need to make sure the work is successful because it’s their work. Engagement is about passion - it may take more work up front but it is far more efficient to execute and over time it becomes self-sustaining.
A great example of how we are engaging physicians early is in the human resources planning for physicians. We are beginning to look at how we will plan for physician recruitment in Fraser Health by understanding how many physicians we currently have, how many are retiring and how many we will need as our population continues to grow and change. This work is happening with frontline physicians – a grass roots effort to understand the current situation and identify innovative solutions. Involving physicians in this planning ensures that the voice of the target audience for recruitment – physicians – is heard loud and clear.
There is also some excellent work happening as part of the Facility Engagement Initiative – a partnership of the B.C. Government, Doctors of B.C. and health authorities – which is working to improve the working environment for physicians, specifically physicians with privileges in our hospitals. We are currently piloting projects at Royal Columbian and Burnaby Hospitals and you can expect to see more about this work in the coming months.
Engagement is a relationship – and like all relationships, it’s the small things that count. We’re beginning to see evidence of real change being echoed back to us by our medical staff. Recently, I’ve heard physicians speak with enthusiasm about how they are involved in the work we are doing and how their voices are being heard. I believe that many of our physician partners are eager and ready to be engaged.
Physicians have many wonderful ideas on how we can improve health care delivery. We need to listen and include them in the conversation as early as possible. Together, we all can make a difference and provide the best possible care to our patients and clients while maintaining the most respectful and safest possible work environment for all.