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.
We have a responsibility to the people we serve to be thoughtful stewards of the health care dollars we are allocated and to maximize how we spend our budgets in the pursuit of better health for our communities. As we move towards more sustainable, community-centred health care, shifting how we spend our resources and invest in community becomes a critical part of our success.
I’d like to introduce you to Brenda Liggett, our Chief Financial Officer for Fraser Health.
The conversation about shifting resources from acute care (hospital care) into the community is one that has been going on for many years in Fraser Health and other health authorities. To be honest, I wasn’t sure that it would actually happen. However, now I can say that the hard work and foundations we’ve laid in shifting resources is beginning to result in real change across the organization which is benefiting our patients, residents and clients.
When we talk about shifting our resources and budgets out of hospital-based services to community services, we’re really talking about right care, right place in the most cost effective way. Community health care is not only more cost effective for us, but more importantly, it’s often better for the patient.
In order to begin the process of changing how we fund our community services we began looking at our acute care average length of stay and models of care, and standardizing them across Fraser Health. The savings we were able to realize in doing this work has been pumped back into the community. In fact, new funding from the Ministry of Health has primarily been invested in community services. This includes:
Home First home support services
Seniors prototype communities which are helping seniors stay healthy and safe at home
403 new residential care beds
New addictions spaces
Community resources for mental health and substance use including a transition team at Royal Columbian Hospital, Surrey Memorial Hospital and Abbotsford Regional Hospital which helps keep people connected with their care team in the community
Expansion of the BreathWell/COPD Services program which supports patients living with COPD in the community
Our last fiscal year was a transitional year where we didn’t see a lot of new gains as we made these significant changes. Now we are starting to see the results of the investments we’ve made in the community which are driving changes that we are seeing in acute care - bed days and bed volumes are starting to decrease. As of period eight this year we’ve had 22,650 fewer bed days and 1,730 more discharges than in the same time frame last year.
And we will continue to invest in community health care. One of our primary goals is to prevent the need for people to even seek hospital care by investing in prevention and chronic disease support. For example: we have partnered with the Salish First Nations and invested $1 million (matched by the Salish Nation) to improve primary health care and increase life expectancy for members of the Salish community.
We are also working more closely with the Divisions of Family Practice in the development of Primary Care Homes which will be coming over the next several years. Some of this work involves developing better connections with family doctors. Our investments in technology will provide better access to patient records. In fact, 50 per cent of the IMIT budget in 2016/2017 (capital) is going to community systems and integration with acute care systems. More seamless access to patient records helps our patients, and their doctors, in providing better, more integrated care.
Additionally, many of our investments in the coming years will help drive efficiencies in the delivery of our services which, in turn, will provide higher quality care and better access for the people we take care of. This includes redevelopment in some of our busiest emergency rooms to help with patient volumes, a new residential care plan and residential care facilities, additional hospice spaces, management of our surgical wait lists and an MRI strategy with a goal of adding 8000+ MRIs this year (which we are on target to meet and exceed).
While we still face significant challenges – high patient demand and the shortage of specialized health care providers among them – the changes we are making in how we invest our health care resources are beginning to bring positive changes for the people and communities we serve.