The Referral Coordination program at the Leduc Beaumont Devon Primary Care Network (LBD PCN) is nearly two years into operation and the response to the program has exceeded expectations of both PCN staff and member physicians.
This program began operating March 1, 2010 and was developed to assist family physicians and their staff in scheduling and tracking appointments with specialists, specialty clinics and outpatient agencies. Since its inception, the Referral Coordination team has processed over 25,000 referrals, averaging 1100 referrals per month.
The LBD PCN has four full time employees who work out of the PCN office in Leduc. Each of the 11 member clinics within the LBD PCN is assigned a designated coordinator to handle all of its referrals, ensuring effective communications between the physician's office and the referral coordination team.
Many specialists have specific protocol to follow while others might only accept referrals during specific times of the week or month. Factors such as these can make it difficult for family physicians to have their patients seen by a specialist in a timely manner. In addition, these activities are time consuming for a family physician's office to keep track of referrals on top of handling patient care and their day to day workload.
The referral coordinators make sure referrals received from family physicians are entered into system and sent to the correct specialist. They track the progress of each referral, communicate with the patient to make sure that they aware of the scheduled appointment and follow the referral through completion.
While the program cannot control how long it takes to see a specific specialist, Referral Coordinators can advise family physicians regarding which specialists within a given specialty have shorter wait-lists to get patients seen faster. In addition, the efficiency of the program speeds up the processing time and gets the referral to the specialist’s office much sooner.
“The response to the program from the physicians and their office staff has been extremely positive,” says Carla Moore, Manager of the Referral Coordination Team. “We've had 100% of our PCN clinics sign on and it's been a very smooth transition for them.”
Did you Know?
• There are 40 PCN’s operating throughout Alberta with 3 more in development.
• Approximately 80% of family physicians in Alberta work within a PCN.
• The LBD PCN serves approximately 56,000 patients within the City of Leduc, towns of Beaumont, Devon, Calmar and all communities within Leduc County.
• The LBD PCN has a 100% membership amongst its 11 clinics, with 51 member family physicians.
• Patients who have a physician that is a member of a PCN have increased access to chronic disease management services.
• PCN physicians report having more time to spend with patients, as a result of multi-disciplinary teams.
Article printed in the Beaumont News, March 9, 2012 and the Leduc Representative, March 16, 2012.
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