Continuity of Care – Preliminary Consultation (Consultation Closed)

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    The deadline to provide feedback is August 12, 2016

    Our Process

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    The term “continuity of care” is broad and touches on many aspects of healthcare. While many continuity of care issues may be the result of factors beyond a physician’s control, physicians do have a role to play in helping to ensure patient care is coordinated, continuous, and consistent with their medical needs and personal context. As such, the College is in the process of exploring the topic of Continuity of Care with the goal of developing, among other deliverables, a new policy (a project planning and proposal document can be viewed here).

    We are now inviting feedback from all stakeholders, including members of the medical profession, the public, health system organizations and other health professionals to inform the College’s work on this topic. We want to know what continuity of care means to you, what problems presently exist, and how the College can work with you or other healthcare organizations to overcome them.

    We also invite you to participate in consultations regarding the Test Results Management and Practice Management Considerations for Physicians Who Cease to Practise, Take an Extended Leave of Absence or Close Their Practice Due to Relocation policies which are currently under review and touch on issues relating to continuity of care.

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    We want to hear your thoughts on continuity of care…

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    Background

    Continuity of care is an important concept for both patient safety and patient-centred care. Delays in receiving important tests, difficulties contacting treating physicians, confusion regarding how to book appointments, where to seek care outside of normal operating hours and during short-term physician absences, transitions between physicians and/or other healthcare providers (both from hospital to community and within a hospital), and inadequate communication between treating physicians, patients, and other physicians or healthcare providers all present opportunities for breakage in continuity or highlight gaps in our system that warrant consideration and attention as they may negatively impact patient safety or the quality of care received.

    Recently continuity of care issues have arisen in several contexts. This includes the death of Greg Price in Alberta in May 2012, which was the result of several preventable breakdowns in continuity of care, but also through our experience as a medical regulator fielding inquiries, calls, or complaints from physicians, patients, and other healthcare professionals.

    Additionally, many other Colleges across Canada including Alberta,1 British Columbia,2, 3 Nova Scotia,4 Prince Edward Island,5, 6 and Yukon,7 have set out expectations or guidelines regarding after-hours coverage or other continuity of care issues.

    While some existing College policies, such as Test Results Management, address issues relevant to continuity of care, for the reasons outlined above we are now turning our attention to addressing the issue of continuity of care more directly and deliberately.

    At this early stage in the process, we have identified a number of issues that warrant exploration to determine whether we can or should address these issues through College policy. Some of these issues include: walk-in clinics, after-hours and vacation coverage, test results, the use of technology, managing medical records and facilitating information exchange, appointment procedures, transitions, and physician health.

    The development of this policy will be pursued in concert with a review of the College’s Test Results Management policy.

    Have Your Say

    We would like to hear your thoughts on continuity of care, along with suggestions you may have for how it can be improved. In particular, we are interested to know:

        • What does continuity of care mean to you?
        • What are the problems currently faced in ensuring continuity of care for patients?
        • How can we overcome these problems?
        • What role can the College play in overcoming these problems?

    Please provide your feedback by August 12, 2016

    Next Steps

    The College is committed to ensuring that the deliverables of this project embody the values and duties of medical professionalism, and are consistent with the College’s mandate to protect the public. The feedback obtained during this consultation will be carefully reviewed and used to guide our work going forward. While it may not be possible to ensure that every comment or suggestion received will be incorporated into the resulting deliverables of this project, all comments will be carefully considered.

    If a draft policy is developed and approved by Council for circulation, stakeholders will be invited to review the draft policy and provide further feedback before it is considered for final approval by College Council. Final decisions regarding policy are made by College Council.

    To ensure transparency, the College will post all consultation feedback in accordance with our posting guidelines.

    We value your feedback and thank you again for participating in this process. _____________________________________________________________________________

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    Send us your feedback by mail:

    College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario
    80 College Street
    Toronto, Ontario
    M5G2E2
    Attention: Policy Department