Palliative medicine is such a complex and amazing field – it is where the art of being human and the art of medicine truly come together. Palliative care doctors constantly face patients with life-threatening illnesses. And it is not just their patients who need care, family members also need support, as their loved ones are often moving towards the most profound stage of any life – the end stage.
SSC has made various changes to its fees and introduced new ones over the past few years to support specialists delivering high quality care to patients. Unlike regular fee-for-service fees funding through the Medical Services Plan, SSC’s budget is capped on an annual basis. As a collaborative committee, we have the responsibility to manage these fees. Therefore, we are making changes to ensure the fees remain aligned with their original intent while keeping utilization within SSC's fixed budget. We have worked hard to ensure minimal impact to you while achieving our fiscal goals. New fee changes take effect July 1, 2017. See Special Bulletin for more information.
Our heart – when we’re happy, we say our heart is full of joy; when we’re sad, we say our heart hurts or is broken. We often use our heart as a measure for our emotional well-being. But when our heart suffers physical damage, it’s the Cardiologists we turn to for help.
Times have changed. Multiple Sclerosis used to be a disease with very little treatment options and a progressive ability to severely disable those affected by it. Within the last five to six years, new drug therapies have proven to be making major inroads in slowing the progression of the disease and in some cases resulting in no evidence of disease activity. However, with these new drugs comes a higher risk profile and the need for greater monitoring.
At a recent standing-room only Medical Staff Association meeting at Vancouver General Hospital, more than 120 physicians turned out to learn about the Vancouver Physician Staff Association Facility Engagement (FE) plans. A request to identify priorities resulted in 36 project proposals that ultimately support better patient care. Other sites are seeing similarly enthusiastic responses from physicians. Medical staff working at 42 hospitals are being formally asked about their priorities, and have a formal structure in place where they can express their views and more importantly - be heard.
Dr. Eric Grafstein is a curious man, which always served him well. It is curiosity that led him to submit a proposal to the SSC’s Quality and Innovation (Q&I) Initiative to pilot a project to make physician telephone consultations available for more urgent calls – considered ‘red calls’ made to the HealthLinkBC 8-1-1 line. He was curious to know if adding a physician would reduce the number of ‘red calls’ ending up in the emergency department (ED). SSC funded the five-month pilot through the Q&I Initiative.
Physician Quality Improvement (PQI) (previously called: Regional Quality Improvement) is an SSC-funded initiative that provides $1.3 million annually to each health authority to support physician involvement in QI. Physicians participate in QI activities through training and completion of projects. Although the focus of PQI is to increase physician involvement – many people can participate and benefit. Anna Hwang, a recent graduate of SFU is one such person.
It was one particular moment in medical school that propelled Dr William Siu, President of the BC Radiological Society, to venture into the field of Radiology. “While attending rounds as a senior medical student, I was blown away by what I saw an Interventional Radiologist do for a particular case – a case that highlighted the cutting edge and futuristic potential of Interventional Radiology. This was what led me to choose Radiology for my residency.”
Inspired by a TED Talk, Dr. Marilyn Thorpe, a Victoria psychiatrist working through the University of Victoria (UVic) Health Services began the Psychiatrist-led Interdisciplinary Team (PIT) project. Funded by SSC, a 30-minute PIT appointment is structured to incorporate the family doctor’s knowledge of and experience with the student-patient and a psychiatrist’s immediate assessment and care planning. If a more comprehensive review is needed, full psychiatric consultations are scheduled.
As part of SSC’s strategy to support physician engagement, SSC is funding and partnering with each Health Authority to help build physician quality improvement (QI) expertise and leadership skills through the Regional QI Initiative. The Physician Quality and Regional Safety Team (PQRST) at Fraser Health (FH) was the first to get going in April 2015. More than a year later, the first PQRST cohort has completed an evaluation of their activities, gaining some impressive results and learnings.
About 400,000 people in BC suffer from diabetes. While the disease sounds simple – high blood sugar – the long-term complications are not. Those complications include heart disease, chronic kidney failure, eye damage and circulation issues, and have a major impact on BC’s health care system.
The SSC’s mandate is to facilitate collaboration with Doctors of BC, the BC government and BC’s Health Authorities on the delivery of specialist-physician services to British Columbians and supports the improvement of the specialist care system. But the big question is “how”?
In the words of Sophocles, “no one longs to live more than someone growing old.” Thanks to medical advances over the last decade, nowadays it seems living longer is inevitable. But with longevity comes an aging population – one that encounters health problems typically specific to older adults. That’s where Geriatricians come in.
Did you know that a health crisis requiring a trip to Emergency (ER) may include being shackled and escorted by police? That’s what can happen when it is a mental health crisis that occurs in public, usually with vulnerable populations, such as the homeless. Recognizing this issue, Dr. Matthew Chow, a psychiatrist with Providence Health teamed with Inspector Howard Tran of the Vancouver Police Department to determine a better response and treatment approach.
For more than a year, 11 BC surgical sites across all health authorities worked together as the BC Enhanced Recovery Collaborative to improve patient recovery after colorectal surgery by implementing 21 evidence-based processes of care. Compliance to these processes resulted in reducing complication rates from 32% to 22% and shortening hospital stays by two days without affecting readmission rates.
Dr. Carolyn Shiau, a pathologist working out of Royal Columbian Hospital (RCH) was tired of hearing “because that’s the way it is always done” when looking to make improvements. In April 2015, she joined the Physician Quality and Regional Safety Team (PQRST) – an initiative funded by SSC to support physician engagement through quality improvement in Fraser Health.
About 400 people registered – including 80 specialist physicians. They all took part in the first ever Joint Collaborative/Clinical Committees (JCCs) Showcase this February in Vancouver. Participants shared the successes and lessons learned from the range of collaborative work being done in partnership with Doctors of BC, the provincial government, health authorities and local communities
For most, spring means blooming flowers and blossoming trees. But for the 20% of the population who suffer from allergies, the season means sneezing, congestion, itchy eyes, even asthma. While many allergies can be controlled with the occasional use of an over-the-counter medication, some can interfere with day-to-day activities, can decrease a person’s quality of life and in certain circumstances even be life threatening. That’s where an Allergist or Immunologist comes in.
Diversity is great for our eco-system. The same can be said for our health care system – diversity makes it stronger. Recently, a diverse group of specialities came together for a learning session in Victoria. The specialities are embarking on a Quality Improvement (QI) project that will enhance access to specialist consults through centralized referrals across five specialities from different BC regions.