Strategic Plan Series: Access
Note: Eastern Health’s Strategic Plan 2014-2017, Together We Can, was released on June 30, 2014. This article is one in a series outlining each of the plan’s four priorities: Quality and Safety, Access, Sustainability and Population Health.
As an employee in the Planning Department of Eastern Health, I get a close look at key areas of focus under each of the organization’s priority areas for action. One such priority is Access.
Access involves having the right intervention for the right client at the right time and in the right place. In other words, this means that we want to ensure that our patients, clients and residents have appropriate access to services across the health care system.
One area of particular importance to help our patients, clients and residents attain good health is ensuring that health care services are available in the community, or ‘ambulatory’ setting, as much as possible.
In the community setting, a good example of appropriate access to services is having clients with diabetes well-managed through diabetes educators, dietitians and foot care clinics, for instance. Such community-based services reduce the likelihood of the need for hospital treatment for complications related to that disease, such as foot ulcers or loss of kidney function.
“A diagnosis of Type II Diabetes can be very overwhelming so it is important to provide as much support as possible at the beginning of a client’s journey,” says Colleen Fry, regional manager of adult diabetes services. “I am sure we would all agree that it can be very difficult to make lifestyle changes, especially as adults, so it is also important to provide a caring and supportive environment while our clients have a lot of new information to absorb.”
But how can we tell if our community-based interventions are making a difference?
One measure referenced in our Strategic Plan involves monitoring the Rate of Admissions for Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions. Based on what we know from experts in organizations like the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), monitoring this indicator over time helps us to determine whether we are providing services in the hospital that could better be provided in a community (or ambulatory) setting.
“We know there are high demands for our services,” adds Elizabeth Kennedy, director of both ambulatory care and clinical efficiency, “but our goal is to continuously improve access to timely, appropriate programs so that clients will have the best health outcomes in the long run.”
Indeed, providing the right intervention at the right time involves offering preventive programs and services so that people may not develop chronic conditions at the outset.
Providing services in the right place, closer to home, enables clients to access the preventive services they need in their communities, and helps them by reducing their risk of being admitted to hospital for complications related to their chronic conditions.
Providing quality, accessible care for our clients is what it’s all about! ■
To get more details on Access and the other priorities in our Strategic Plan, please visit Eastern Health’s Strategic Plan 2014-17 website or contact the Planning Department through Gillian Janes at (709) 777-6773 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was written by Gillian Janes, a planning specialist with Eastern Health, based in St. John’s.