When technology meets a team: happy patients, an enjoyable workplace

Dr Steve Hansen and his practice team – MOAs Jenelle and Melissa, RN Kari, and LPN Connie – are committed to practice excellence. As a skilled, well-coordinated, and hard-working collaborative team, they each work to the top of their scope to support a large patient population.

Committed to continuous improvements, the team has significantly enhanced the efficiency of their practice using skills and knowledge acquired through the Practice Support Program (PSP). They have listened to patients’ concerns, maximized the functionality of their EMR, made workflow improvements, and are putting new panel management skills to work to use their EMR data for proactive care.

“We have an incredibly busy office – a large maternity practice,” explains Dr Hansen. “There’s a lot of disruption, and no extra capacity. Each day is full. When it is busy and there is not a lot of margin, the more efficient we can be, the better.”

Having a strong team spirit is key to their success. Everyone is willing to take on different pieces of work, and support each other to make change happen, all for the benefit of patients.

“This practice embodies the essence of a productive team culture,” says Shefali Raja, who supports the practice as part of Fraser Health’s PSP regional team. “They have trusting relationships and share the same values. They enjoy the challenge of growing. And they do it with a great deal of enthusiasm.”

Putting patients’ experiences first: cutting wait times by two-thirds

In 2018, the team used the electronic patient experience survey tool to ask 140 patients for feedback about the office environment, their relationship with the doctor, interactions with the health care team, and self management confidence. Results were generally positive, with the exception of access and wait times.

Through a variety of strategies – which included educating patients about planning for effective appointments and completing forms - the practice was able to reduce wait times by two-thirds. The average time from patient’s arrival to being seen was reduced from 60 minutes to 20 minutes.

MOA Jenelle says that patients are happier and pleased when there is often no wait at all. “It makes a huge difference for us.”

Panel management: proactive care instead of catch-up care

As an early adopter of panel management, the practice took the first essential step of reviewing the status of 14,000+ patients, and identified 4,464 as being currently active. With further cleanup of active patient data, they were able to create disease registries and pull reports for proactive care and preventative screening such as immunizations.

“We are now identifying patients who should be coming in regularly if they are not already,” says Jenelle. “In the past, we weren’t doing proactive care to this degree. We had no system to capture those. Now, we have a cleaner system, we are more efficient. And it feels amazing knowing the patient is getting the care they need.”

“It feels like more of a team approach now,” says Kari, the practice RN.” I didn't know how to call these patients in, or what kind of system to use. Now the flow is better.”

With clean lists, the team can ensure that patients with complex care needs have a documented care plan with follow-ups planned. “We can block time off for diabetes and complex care appointments six months out,” says Melissa. “We have a clear plan for maternity patients. So it is a lot better for time management.”

EMR functionality: No more sticky notes

Jenelle and Dr Hansen note that communication has improved too.

“Instead of giving the doctor sticky notes that say, “’this patient has a question,” we can now set up tasks and reminders in the EMR. The doctor responds back, and it creates an electronic note in the chart for future reference," says Jenelle.

“You don't waste a lot of time finding things. You know where everything is,” says Dr Hansen. He compares using an EMR to learning a new language: “It takes a few years to learn and express yourself naturally without thinking about it,” he says. “Overall, I think it has made the practice a more enjoyable place to work.”