In our first season of WCBA, we did a show about why you wait weeks to get an appointment with your family doctor. And if you manage to get an appointment, why you cool your heels in the waiting room while your GP runs further and further behind.
This week, WCBA travels across Canada to find meet three family physicians who have found three unique ways to improve efficiency and shorten the wait.
* Dr. Jeff Colp, a family doctor in Hatchet Lake, about 15 km south of Halifax, took the province up on a pilot program in which Colp hired Registered Nurse Patsy Smith to work in his office. The result: he sees 2-3 more patients per hour, takes home less paperwork, and takes better care of his patients.
* In Edmonton, Dr. Ernst Schuster, a leading family doctor in Alberta, got the bottlenecks out of his practice through an efficiency program run by the province. One big change? He's gotten rid of procrastination. When he sees a 50-year-old man with a sore toe, he maximizes the appointment by doing blood work as well as checking for common conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.
* Meanwhile, in Fraser Lake, BC, Dr. John Pawlovich has found a way to clean out his waiting room. He sees up to 17 patients at one time and in one room. It's called shared or group medical visits. Think of it as group diabetes or group cholesterol.
Three different innovations with the same result. Each physician has seen wait lists drop to zero. Now, same day appointments are the rule, rather than the exception.
It's nice to know family doctors are finding ways to take better care of you.
Catch the show on Saturday at 10 am (1030 NT) and Monday at 1130 am (330 pm NT) on CBC Radio One.