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20th - Jun

Wealth of information about patients, practice now available to Sask. family physicians

Saskatchewan family physicians now have access to a detailed practice report covering everything from prescribing patterns to patient demographics.

Primary Care Panel Reports are voluntary reports that provide physicians who request them with a wealth of information about the patients they see regularly.

The reports were developed by the Health Quality Council with support from the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA), the Saskatchewan College of Family Physicians, and the Department of Academic Family Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. Data came from administrative health databases at the Ministry of Health and eHealth Saskatchewan under a data-sharing agreement. eHealth Saskatchewan also contributed technology and infrastructure support.

“The Saskatchewan Medical Association is pleased to have assisted the Health Quality Council in developing panel reports for family physicians,” said Dr. Allan Woo, president of the SMA. “In fact physicians are already making use of their reports and are using the information to learn more about their practices. The SMA encourages family physicians to use their panel reports and apply the insights they learn to their clinics, and in that way better serve their patients.”

Family physicians provided advice

The initial version of a panel report includes information about a doctor's patient population such as age, sex distribution, frequency of visits, common reasons for visits, use of other health services (i.e.: visits to other physicians, to emergency departments, admissions to hospital). The 16-page reports also provide physicians with information about their prescribing patterns for certain medications (antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, and opioids), relative to meaningful targets or benchmarks.

An advisory group of eight family physicians provided direction on what information to include in the reports. The reports were piloted with family physicians practising in the Prince Albert area starting in October 2018.

Dr. Christo Lotz of Prince Albert says his report has caused him to reflect on his own practice. He was surprised to see that his level of connection with patients was considerably lower than he expected. However, the discrepancy made more sense once he realized his results combined the patients he sees in his by-appointment-only practice (who receive most of their care from him) and patients he sees at a separate walk-in clinic (who receive most of their care from other providers).

“The common denominator for all family physicians would be whether it reflects how you wish to practice and where potential areas for improvement would be,” said Dr. Lotz. For him, the panel report has prompted him to ask questions about his practice he hadn’t previously considered. He says he’s looking at ways to use it to “interrogate” his Electronic Medical Record on a regular basis, to learn more about the way he delivers care.

HQC organizes information sessions for MDs

Dr. Jessica Harris, a family medicine resident in Saskatoon who helped design the reports, said her counterparts across Canada have identified quality improvement as an important area of focus during training.

“As a family medicine resident soon to be entering practice in Saskatchewan, I believe these panel reports will help me to better understand my practice, and ultimately to provide the best care possible to my patients,” said Harris. “I look forward to receiving my first report.”

HQC is organizing information sessions around the province to introduce physicians to the report, and show them how the tool can be used to gain insights into their practice and identify opportunities to improve their clinical care. Physicians who request their report and reflect on the information it contains will receive Continuing Professional Credits (Mainpro+) from the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

Click here for link to Health Quality Council/SMA news release

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