NSHA is pro­mot­ing the idea of col­lab­o­ra­tive fam­ily prac­tices

The Victoria Standard - - Front Page - CAROLYN BAR­BER

In a con­ven­tional health­care set­ting, physi­cians, nurses and other prac­ti­tion­ers work next to one an­other, and even con­sult each other, but they do not op­er­ate as a de­fined unit. Where a pa­tient be­gins in the cy­cle of care and who they see in the process is of­ten less de­fined from the out­set.

In contrast, pa­tients in a col­lab­o­ra­tive fam­ily prac­tice have ac­cess to com­pre­hen­sive care from a team of health­care pro­fes­sion­als. That’s the mes­sage ap­prox­i­mately 50 peo­ple were given at a Nova Sco­tia Health Au­thor­ity (NSHA) com­mu­nity con­ver­sa­tion on col­lab­o­ra­tive fam­ily prac­tice teams at the Wag­mat­cook Cul­ture & Her­itage Cen­tre on the evening of May 1.

Col­lab­o­ra­tive teams are com­prised of at least three pri­mary health care providers with two or more pro­fes­sional dis­ci­plines (e.g., two fam­ily physi­cians and a nurse prac­ti­tioner or a fam­ily prac­tice nurse). De­pend­ing on the needs of the com­mu­nity, teams may in­clude other health­care pro­fes­sion­als such as so­cial work­ers or di­eti­cians. The NSHA cur­rently sup­ports ap­prox­i­mately 50 col­lab­o­ra­tive fam­ily prac­tice team lo­ca­tions in the prov­ince.

Vic­to­ria County cur­rently has nine fam­ily physi­cians, two di­eti­cians (one in Neil’s Har­bour and one be­tween Way­cobah and Wag­mat­cook), and one nurse prac­ti­tioner shared be­tween Wag­mat­cook and Bad­deck. The county does not cur­rently have a fam­ily prac­tice nurse.

NSHA Health Ser­vices Man­ager for Rich­mond, In­ver­ness and Vic­to­ria Net­work Me­lanie Newell says the ex­ist­ing com­bi­na­tion of pro­fes­sion­als makes a good ba­sis for fam­ily prac­tices in Wag­mat­cook and Bad­deck.

Newell said they are con­tin­u­ally work­ing to build col­lab­o­ra­tive prac­tice teams. The NSHA re­cently put out an ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est ask­ing physi­cians, clin­ics and health cen­tres within the Eastern Zone to gauge who would be in­ter­ested in build­ing a col­lab­o­ra­tive fam­ily prac­tice team.

“In the In­ver­ness, Rich­mond and Vic­to­ria County net­work alone, we’ve had six ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est from peo­ple in­ter­ested in build­ing a team. In Vic­to­ria County, we’re cur­rently work­ing to put a fam­ily prac­tice nurse in Neil’s Har­bour and Bad­deck. We’re also work­ing with the Wag­mat­cook health cen­tre to get them a full-time nurse prac­ti­tioner.”

Ac­cord­ing to Newell, the col­lab­o­ra­tive model helps with physi­cian re­cruit­ment.

“When we have col­lab­o­ra­tive prac­tice teams in place, we’re find­ing that it can help at­tract and keep health­care pro­fes­sion­als within our com­mu­nity. When they have a team to come and work with, they know their clients in the com­mu­nity are be­ing sup­ported by the whole [team].”

Newell also said that col­lab­o­ra­tive prac­tices im­prove over­all ac­cess to health­care while in­creas­ing the num­ber of pa­tients that can be seen. When a prac­tice ex­pands to in­clude more ex­per­tise, it in­creases the ca­pac­ity to serve more clients. Nurse prac­ti­tion­ers and fam­ily prac­tice nurses are two core roles within a col­lab­o­ra­tive prac­tice. Both sup­port the man­age­ment of chronic dis­ease and pro­vide ed­u­ca­tion within the team. A nurse prac­ti­tioner can pre­scribe, or­der tests, di­ag­nos­tics, re­fer pa­tients to spe­cial­ists, help man­age chronic dis­eases. A fam­ily prac­tice nurse can cover well women’s clin­ics, well baby checks, screen­ings, help man­age chronic con­di­tions, do blood pres­sure checks, im­mu­niza­tions and flu clin­ics.

A col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach pro­vides the ap­pro­pri­ate care based on pa­tient needs.

“Who is it on the team that you need to see? Maybe you need a di­eti­cian or a so­cial worker. Or, it could be the fam­ily prac­tice nurse. They’ll de­cide where you need to be.”

Pa­tient med­i­cal records are shared within a col­lab­o­ra­tive prac­tice so that in­for­ma­tion ob­tained by one team mem­ber be­comes eas­ily avail­able to the rest of the team.

The Wag­mat­cook in­for­ma­tion ses­sion gath­ered com­ments from par­tic­i­pants about what they like about the col­lab­o­ra­tive fam­ily prac­tice model, con­cerns they have about the model, and what the NSHA needs to know to make col­lab­o­ra­tive prac­tice mod­els a suc­cess. Feed­back from the in­for­ma­tion ses­sion can be ac­cessed at https://bit.ly/2rrl­hhp.

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