The Specialists for Princeton project was launched in the fall of 2013 with the goal of improving and sustaining access to specialist care in the Princeton area and to support Princeton family practitioners. The September 2015 report on phase one of the project showed that it was a win-win-win, with a positive response coming from patients, practitioners, and specialists. The program is still going strong with more specialty clinics added and patients continuing to receive specialist care.
Of significance for members of the BCRHN is the recommendation from the Project Advisory Committee “that specialist outreach be cultivated in other communities” and offers advice on how that could be done (see page 17 of the report).
The most significant results for phase one (January 1 2014 – January 31, 2015):
- Specialists visiting Princeton nearly doubled, increasing from 7 to 13
- Specialities available nearly tripled (increasing from 4 to 11) to include: respirology, general internal medicine, nephrology, urology, rheumatology, general surgery, orthopedics, and methadone services. Psychiatry, pediatrics, cardiology, and mental health substance use (MHSU) specialists continued to provide clinics in Princeton
- Thirteen specialists delivered 46 clinics totalling more than 500 patient appointments
- Nine Continuing Medical Educations sessions were held for Princeton clinicians by seven different specialists
- 100% of patients reported their experience as excellent or good
- Princeton physicians reported significant improvements in their ability to provide optimal patient care
- Specialists found the outreach rewarding as patient acuity and the appreciation of the community validated their efforts
- All parties feel confident that the initiative will be sustained after the project’s completion in 2016
The following excerpts indicate the success of the project:
The project aligned with and responded to a need identified by the community. All of the partners, in particular the specialists, were committed and united around the common goal of improving rural patient care in the Princeton community. In addition, the partners felt a collective sense of ownership over the project.
During a 10-month period, 184 patients were surveyed (Jan – Oct 2014). Overall the data indicated that an estimated 31% of patients received care who otherwise would not have . . . [and] 37.4% of patients said they had missed specialist appointments in the past because of difficulty travelling. In contrast, with the outreach clinics, 96% of patients kept their appointments. One hundred percent of patients rated the overall quality of their visit as excellent or good.
For Princeton patients, outreach added to their independence and contributed to decisions to remain in their own community:
“This kind of caring and provision makes it possible for [my parents] and me (an hour away) to rest easy knowing their medical needs will not be ignored or delayed,” explained the daughter of an elderly couple receiving specialist care in Princeton.
Excerpts from interviews with specialists describing the experience:
“We had one gentleman who could have died from a cardio or pulmonary event without having had some intervention. For me to be able to go out and reach a few of these lives—maybe we make a difference.”
“I enjoy the fact that the patients appear grateful for me coming there. It echoes back to an older way we practiced and it’s a little bit more personal.”
“An important side benefit is just getting to know the Princeton physicians. If a GP feels more comfortable to pick up the phone it improves access via telephone, and the family doctors are just that much more comfortable. It might prevent some referrals that they can just stickhandle on their own.”
To see the full report, click on: Specialists for Princeton
Shared Care is a collaborative initiative that brings specialist physicians to Princeton to provide local on-site specialist consultation appointments. Services presently being covered include Nephrology, Respirology, Rheumatology, Cardiology, Urology, Pediatrics and Psychiatry. To access these specialists a referral from your GP or NP is required.