Doctor visit waits cut by review, says consultant

Wait times for an appointment with a family doctor have been cut in half for some Prince Edward Islanders following a consultant's review.

Focus on preventing falls at seniors' home also part of review

Wait times for an appointment with a family doctor have been cut in half for some Prince Edward Islanders following a consultant's review.

The goal is to get family doctor wait times down to one week, says consultant Dale Schattenkirk. (LTS Consulting)

The project is one of many in a three-year lean review by a Learning To See Consulting of Regina. The lean review aims to identify inefficiencies in health care processes.

The family doctor project worked with 11 doctors to improve patient access.

"A lot of the physicians we worked with, if it was 40 days they're down to 20. We've got a couple of the physicians who were in the first round are actually at same day service," said consultant Dale Schattenkirk.

"It's about just looking at how we do our daily work and looking at what we call the eight wastes within work, and that's what we're looking for, is what's taking time throughout the day and how do we streamline that."

Scattenkirk said ultimately patients should be able to get in within a week. This would save healthcare dollars by keeping people out of emergency rooms, which are more costly.

Health PEI said it is difficult to quantify the savings from quicker access to family doctors, but noted another benefit is lower demand at walk-in clinics, allowing people without family doctors to get in more quickly there.

P.E.I.'s health costs are rising faster than inflation, and one of the goals of the lean review is to drop that back to match inflation. The government is spending $100,000 a year on the review.

Seniors' home fall prevention program reduces hospitalization

Another project is to work to reduce hospital admissions from four of the province's long-term care facilities.

One reason for hospitalization is injuries from falls. Schattenkirk worked with one unit at the Beach Grove Home to develop a new fall prevention program.

"A resident might be a little disoriented at three in the morning and they have to go to the washroom," he said.

"They looked at a better bed alarm, so that if a resident does stir it sets the alarm off to allow the care worker or nurse to be able to get to the resident's side in time. Now, for that to happen, we have to reduce their other workloads, so that the moment that alarm goes off they can actually be there."

Other measures to help prevent falls include cleaning up spills more quickly, and putting in toilet seat rings in residents' rooms that are black and so are easier to see.

Health PEI says falls have dropped 62 per cent at Beach Grove since the project was introduced.

The contract with LTS Consulting ends in mid-December. Teams of healthcare workers have been trained to continue on with lean consulting work.

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