Pathways is an online resource that provides physicians and their office staff quick access to current and accurate referral information, including wait times and areas of expertise for specialists and specialty clinics. Pathways also provides access to hundreds of patient and physician resources, a searchable community service directory and a medical care directory.
Originally developed by the Fraser Northwest Division of Family Practice, Pathways is now available to all divisions of family practice across BC.
In 2019, Pathways rolled out:
- A public-facing community service directory in select communities. This enables patients to quickly and easily search for community services and programs in their local area.
- The Pathways Referral Tracker, which allows physicians and their staff to send and track referrals within Pathways through a common dashboard, securely communicate between GP and SP clinics, send referral documentation, and enable electronic notifications to be sent automatically to patients once they have been wait-listed or had an appointment booked.
Who can use Pathways?
Access to Pathways is limited to family doctors who are members of a division of family practice, their staff, and/or nurse practitioners, and specialists who fall within the geographic boundaries of these divisions.
With the addition of the new public facing community services sites, the public will be able to access just the community service portion of Pathways, while specialist and clinic information remains login access only.
How is Pathways funded?
Funding for Pathways is provided through the General Practice Services Committee (GPSC), a joint collaboration between Doctors of BC and the BC government. Individual divisions of family practice also contribute operational funding at a local level.
How do patients benefit from Pathways?
Pathways streamlines and simplifies the patient referral process, resulting in more appropriate referrals, a reduction in re-referrals, and thereby more efficient patient care. The information in Pathways (e.g., wait times, details on specific areas of practice) enables family doctors to identify the most appropriate care provider to address their patients’ needs in as timely a manner as possible. With the new Referral Tracker, patients will actually know where they are in the referral process without needing to call their family doctor or specialist office to find out. Patients can receive recommendations of relevant social services directly from their physician, which they can now further explore on their own within the public facing community service sites.
How do physicians benefit from Pathways?
Family physicians benefit from having all information needed to make an appropriate referral at their fingertips, all in one place. They can also use the resources in Pathways to help educate patients while in the exam room, using evidence-based material to potentially avoid inappropriate or unnecessary referrals. For specialists, contact information, referral forms, and even patient instructions are all listed in their Pathways profile, which means less time spent on the phone for office staff having to communicate this information. Having the ability to provide very clear instructions about what type of referrals they do and do not accept results in a higher quality of referrals overall.
How is Pathways organized?
The provincial Pathways support team provides the technical infrastructure to operate the Pathways website and also provides administrative support to help guide divisions of family practice in their implementation and maintenance of Pathways locally. Individual divisions also provide Pathways Administrators to curate specialist and clinic data within their local region.