To improve access to specialist consult and care.
Sizing it Up
The Specialist Services Committee (SSC) launched the Enhancing Access Initiative in March 2018 to enable interested groups of specialists in implementing pooled referral models with their colleagues. The initiative focuses on utilizing a repeatable framework based on the learnings and experiences of past SSC and Shared Care projects that can be efficiently shared and leveraged by future groups.
Things to Know
Participating specialist groups are focused on improving workflow in the following areas:
- Establishing a central intake process for all referrals to the specialty group with timely notification to the referring physician about the referral.
- Triaging the received referrals according to evidence-based protocols, where appropriate.
- Providing referred patients the option to be seen by the next available specialist practicing in the same specialization.
- Utilizing data to monitor and manage specialist waitlists.
Application process is currently closed. For questions or information, contact us.
Garth Vatkin, Portfolio Liaison: firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrea McMaster, Project Coordinator. Email: email@example.com
- What is the Enhancing Access initiative?
Enhancing Access is a Specialist Services Committee (SSC) sponsored initiative aimed at improving patient access to specialist consult and care. One of the ways this can be achieved is by implementing a pooled referral model where physicians within the same specialty agree to work collaboratively to optimize resources and balance workloads decreasing the amount of time a patient has to wait to access specialist care.
- What is ‘pooled referral’?
Historically patients requiring consult with a specialist are referred by their family practitioner to a specific specialist. The patient’s name is then added to a waiting list and are seen based on the urgency of their concern. Depending on the particular specialist’s wait list, a patient may wait for days, weeks or months for an initial consultation.
With pooled referrals, a patient is referred to a ‘pool’ or group of specialists practising the same specialization, and who have agreed to collectively manage and triage referrals in a coordinated way. This model gives the patient the option to see the first available specialist in the pool or to wait to see the specialist of their choice. In other words, the flow of patients is based on capacity and demand; if one specialist in the pool is at full capacity, patients will flow to another specialist who is not, balancing the workload and shortening the time to specialist consult.
- Is it mandatory for specialists to participate in a pooled referral model?
No. The pooled referral model is an option – not a requirement – for patients and referring physicians. In keeping with a patient-centered health system, pooled referrals create a greater level of choice for patients. Ultimately, however, patients and their physicians remain free to seek a consultation from any specialist they choose with the understanding that this may have an impact on how long a patient may wait.
- How does the Specialist Services Committee (SSC) help specialists implement a pooled referral model?
The SSC assists with one-time funding that helps specialists transition from working independently to working with their colleagues to manage referrals as a group, and may also include elements such as getting onto a common electronic medical record (EMR) which is a requirement for successful implementation. The SSC also offers support and guidance for project teams as they implement this new service delivery model.
- What does the funding cover?
Funding is typically used to help cover transition costs associated with getting participants to adopt a common EMR, hiring a project manager or project coordinator, branding services (i.e. website), training for specialists and medical office assistants (MOAs) and engaging with family practitioners to improve communication and referral processes. Each project is different therefore funding requirements can vary from one project to the next.
- What does the SSC funding NOT cover?
Funding for operational costs that include but are not limited training of locums, ongoing EMR or other license fees, infrastructure alterations to clinic settings or equipment purchases are NOT covered by the SSC.
- Will this model still work if my colleagues and I are NOT co-located?
Yes! However the implementation is simplified if all specialists in a group are co-located. In the instance of virtual team models, a shared EMR allows all clinicians to easily access necessary patient information regardless of location.
- What if all specialists practicing the same specialization in a community do NOT want to participate?
Group consensus is a critical component to implementing this model of service delivery as it is largely based on transitioning from practicing as an individual practitioner to practicing as a team. Consequently a Memorandum of Understanding must be signed by all members of a group to agree on how members will work together and what they intend to achieve prior to receiving project funding.
- How are applicants selected to receive funding by the SSC?
Specialists interested in the Enhancing Access initiative must complete the online application in full. Each element of the submission package is graded based on a weighted score. Once the package is reviewed a secondary interview process may occur to address any outstanding questions. The Enhancing Access Steering Committee is the decision making body regarding all applicants.
- I applied for funding through the Enhancing Access initiative in the past. Do I have to re-apply?
Yes. All specialists interested in receiving funding must apply during the submission period of October 15 to 30, 2019.
- Who can I contact if I have further questions?
Initiative lead: Garth Vatkin