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Strengthening the voice of physicians through Facility Engagement

June 9, 2017

The provincial Facility Engagement Initiative is in full swing. Introduced as part of the Physician Master Agreement, it aims to strengthen communication and relationships between hospital-based physicians and health authorities so they can solve problems, and improve patient care and the physician work environment.  So how is it going?  

Early emerging examples are demonstrating how physicians and health authorities are interacting through Facility Engagement to make sustainable improvements.  At the Victoria General Hospital, a group of gastroenterologists identified a priority to schedule endoscopic (ERCP) procedures in a more efficient and effective way. In the past, there would have been significant roadblocks to this kind of change as it would involve adjusting staffing practices, hospital room allocation and more.

The project’s physician lead, Dr. Denis Petrunia, reported that Facility Engagement funding facilitated getting all of the physicians impacted by previous ERCP booking model to attend initial discussion and planning meetings. As a result, members of the administration became aware of the complex issues and were then motivated to support the changes recommended. The groups organized a series of meetings to discuss how to reorganize the ERCP scheduling.  Changes in scheduling practices for weekday procedures have now been successfully implemented, and the group is in the process of evaluating the outcomes and cost savings over the next few months.  

Since the fall of 2016, interest and involvement in the Facility Engagement Initiative has grown rapidly. Forty-three of the 60 hospital sites involved to date have are prioritizing issues, making steps towards working with their health authority to establish local strategies, and have received funding to carry out activities.

This level of involvement is significant. For first time in BC, the medical staff working at 43 hospitals are being asked about their priorities, and now have the time, resources, and a formal structure in place through which to express their views and be heard.

At a standing-room only MSA meeting at Vancouver General Hospital, 120-plus physicians showed up to learn about the Vancouver Physician Staff Association Facility Engagement plans and request for priorities, which resulted in 36 project proposals. Other sites are also seeing enthusiastic responses from the medical staff, who are voicing priorities that range from solving challenges in clinical areas and gaps in communication, to improving physician health and care delivery for patients. In some cases, Facility Engagement is bringing together physicians who have been disconnected for years, and energizing medical staff associations to be more active and unified. 

As Facility Engagement gains traction across the province, other examples are illustrating how physicians are influencing decisions that affect them and their patients, and collaborating locally with their site administration and health authority. It will take time to shift and improve communication, and build stronger collaborative relationships between the groups, but early progress is positive. Stay tuned.

 

Facility Engagement is an initiative of the Specialist Services Committee, one of four joint collaborative committees that represent a partnership of the Government of BC and Doctors of BC.  Read more