Physicians team up to improve care and access for new mothers

October 12, 2018

The expansion of physician networks is a key part of the work underway to improve the primary care system for patients and providers. In networks, doctors work together to support each other and their patients, and to provide cross-coverage and continuous care.  

One group  of family doctors has been quietly pioneering this approach with huge success for new mothers and their babies. The result has been shorter wait times and fewer complications – all good news for patients and their doctors.   

Dr Shelley Ross: “Best kept secret in the Lower Mainland”

The Burnaby Maternity Clinic is a GP-to-GP network that supports family doctors to provide care to pregnant patients in Burnaby. “It’s the best kept secret in the Lower Mainland,” says Dr Shelley Ross, General Practice Services Committee (GPSC) Co-chair and family physician at the clinic. A key goal of the clinic is to keep low-risk maternity patients in a primary care setting throughout their pregnancy, reducing the need for them to be seen in the specialty setting. 

How it all works

In addition to GP referrals, obstetricians are redirecting low-risk patients back to their family doctors and recommending the Burnaby Maternity Clinic as the best place for them to continue receiving care in pregnancy.

The clinic is comprised of six family doctors who work together to provide 24-hour care to maternity patients. Located on the first floor of Burnaby Hospital, the network maintains wraparound care for patients throughout pregnancy, labour and delivery, and up to six weeks post-partum. 

The support of the network means family doctors who do not provide obstetrical care in Burnaby can seamlessly transfer patients to the clinic and be confident that they are well looked after. 

Positive outcomes: shorter wait times, lower health care costs

This model has been shown to provide patients with better access to continuous care, which means shorter wait times, fewer complications and interventions, and lower costs to the health care system. There is less burden on obstetricians as well, whose main focus is critical obstetrical care and high-risk pregnancies.

“In Burnaby, we are building a model which improves the care we are able to provide as GPs,” says Dr Lemke. “The future is one of collegiality and working together, enabling the shared delivery of primary maternity care.”  As well as emphasizing the benefits of keeping maternity patients in a primary care setting throughout their pregnancy, the clinic encourages other GPs to consider offering maternity services at the clinic. 

Doctors working with partners to lead innovation

As a part of Fraser Health operations since its inception, the clinic was identified by the Burnaby Division as a key player in supporting patient access to quality care. With joint funding from the Ministry of Health and Doctors of BC through the General Practice Services Committee (GPSC), the division developed a plan to promote the benefits of the clinic in the context of the patient medical home.

Through this partnership, these innovative approaches to care enable family physicians to share the work, and the patient to access the best care.

Learn more

Two promotional videos have been created to showcase the clinic and its services: one highlights the benefits of the clinic to other family physicians and the other for GPs to display in their waiting rooms that demonstrate the clinic’s services to prospective patients.

For more information about the clinic and the network of family doctors, visit the website.

You can find out more about physician networks within the Primary Care Network and Patient Medical Home by clicking here.