Improving access and meeting patient needs: PMH success in Prince George

When it comes to providing the best possible care for her diverse patient population, Prince George physician Dr Susie Butow relies on the support of the primary care team in her practice. In fact, she’s never worked any other way.

“I have the fortune to have never been in practice without being integrated into an interprofessional primary care team,” explains Dr Butow. “With my team, I can spend more time focusing on and addressing the social determinants of health, which not only improves the health of my patients—it creates healthier communities overall.”

Dr Butow’s practice functions as a fully realized Patient Medical Home (PMH)—meaning that she and her team provide person- and family-centred care by incorporating team-based care, panel management, continuous quality improvement, and support from multiple physician networks. “As a result of this work,” she says, “I have been able to improve patient access to our clinic significantly.”

The Prince George Division of Family Practice began implementing PMHs across the community in 2015. Working within a PMH, physicians can:

  • Increase their ability to provide optimal care for patients, and conveniently access a full range of supports and services for patients.
  • Spend more time on difficult diagnoses and strengthening patient relationships.
  • Reduce the burden of caring for patients alone, which can help to prevent burnout.
  • Increase the efficiency of the practice and streamline processes to maximize time, resources, and capacity.

The Family Practice Services Committee—a joint initiative of Doctors of BC and the Government of BC—provides physicians with a variety of supports to incorporate PMH attributes into their practices, including clinical and practice management tools, incentive fees, and coaching and mentoring. Dr Butow has benefited from the Practice Support Program’s coaching services in particular. “I have a practice support coach that helps to keep me on top of my QI goals and keeps me connected and engaged in this work,” she explains. This support has enabled Dr Butow and the practice to build a team of health providers that supports patients’ needs in a comprehensive way. “Having a team of nurses and allied health providers to support my work and my patients’ health is so reassuring,” she says. “The support from our team makes me feel less overwhelmed by the magnitude of complex patient needs.”

Dr Butow feels strongly that adopting the PMH model of care in her practice has better enabled her to do the work she loves to do, and to embrace the aspects of care that brought her into the medical profession in the first place. “This way of working allows me to really feel as though I'm addressing patients’ medical needs rather than just rushing them through my clinic,” she says.

“I can't imagine being able to provide this level of comprehensive care for my patients without knowing I have the support of my team alongside me.”