Nova Scotia Health Authority values innovation. It is a key element of our work and we see it reflected throughout our organization in efforts to improve patient care, experience, quality, safety and health for the individuals, families and communities we serve.
We are facing many tough challenges and believe that solutions will be found through new ways of thinking and doing. New ideas, technology and methods are essential to achieving our vision of healthy people, healthy communities – for generations.
The transformation underway in our primary health care system is an example of how we’re working differently for a healthier future. All Nova Scotians must benefit from a commitment to innovation, creativity and working differently where it matters.
This is our priority. We are making gains, but we have much more work to do. Our recruitment efforts are being bolstered by increasing community and physician involvement, stronger local, national and international efforts and making it easier for candidates and newly recruited physicians to move into practice.
Continuing our focus on collaborative care, we worked with 23 teams to add 39 health professionals to bring the total number of collaborative primary health-care teams across the province to 57. We continue to support existing collaborative family practice teams and work with those who are interested and ready to transition to a team-based approach and increase our focus on wellness and chronic disease prevention and management. In 2018 more than 400 family doctors across Nova Scotia expressed interest in working in a collaborative family practice team.
Our goal is to ensure we have the right mix and distribution of resources in each community across the province so all Nova Scotians can get the care they need. A wonderful example of this is an initiative to enhance access to chronic disease care through group medical visits, which recently received the national 3M health care quality team award. This award recognizes quality and research efforts in Primary Health Care that result in increased patient access, patient satisfaction, timely, relevant and continuous care, cost effectiveness, and system efficiencies.
Innovation helps us recruit the best.
To accelerate positive recruitment results we have developed a comprehensive recruitment strategy called More than Medicine, created a provincial recruitment and retention advisory committee, and worked with our partners to create more training opportunities for residents and a new practice-ready assessment program for foreign- trained physicians. The physicians that sign on to work here note the opportunities to work with a highly skilled community of talented physicians and applaud the many opportunities to teach and conduct research. In 2017-18, 103 doctors started practice in Nova Scotia. Another 53 signed on to start after April 1, 2018.
Innovation helps us better plan, implement and evaluate new approaches to care and service delivery.
This is evident in our multi-year action plan to help us improve care and reduce waitlists for hip and knee replacements. Our strategy places a greater focus on personal wellness and is helping more patients receive the care they need sooner. There were 4.6 per cent fewer patients waiting at the end of 2017-18 and even greater progress expected as the various elements of our plan are implemented.
These efforts will help us trend toward the national six-month benchmark over time. Some sites, like our Cape Breton joint replacement location, are expected to achieve the benchmark sooner than our 2020 target.
Innovation is also reflected in our efforts to promote positive mental health, care and support in Nova Scotia. Our team is focused on improving the experience of patients, clients and their families while helping to support their road to wellness and recovery.
We have expanded community-based programs including SchoolsPlus and CaperBase, which works with youth, families, schools and other community partners to create solutions, opportunities and supports for youth. Recruitment of mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, has been and continues to be a major focus.
We are also taking an innovative approach to promoting a Home First philosophy, focusing on supporting people at home for as long as possible, reducing waitlists for long-term care and home care and providing a greater range of support services for people in their community.
Innovation creates opportunities.
Nova Scotia Health Authority is a hub of cutting-edge scientific research, learning and discovery. With more than 1,200 active research projects underway in our organization, researchers are championing advances in therapy and multi-disciplinary approaches to care and service delivery.
Researchers are examining the effects of job history on health into old age. They are doing clinical trials to develop the first-ever technology with the ability to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in a living person’s brain. They are using stem cells to develop a test to identify if a patient will respond to lithium, which will save lot of time in trial and error to get individuals with bipolar disorder stabilized faster. Researchers are working to tackle today’s health care challenges and improve health and care delivery for the future.
When we talk about innovation, we often think of technology. Technology is bringing patients and care providers together in virtual consultations, giving faster access to test results right at the patient’s bedside, and helping doctors and nurses prepare for surgery.
And, there are also many great examples of how we are working differently with communities toward better health by moving evidence into practice. Our efforts to support patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and their families at home is a great example of this. So too is our work with schools to ensure students learn about and have access to healthy food. We are working with municipalities and fitness facilities to provide opportunities for frail seniors to exercise safely and reduce social isolation through the Walk ‘n’ Roll program.
These are just a few of the wonderful examples of innovation in our work with individuals, families and communities.
Looking forward, there is much work to do together.
Stronger engagement with Nova Scotians is critical to the success of our work. Nova Scotians are sharing their perspectives about family practice teams through community conversations. We have recruited more than 120 patient/family advisors who are now lending their voice to improvement activities and service planning. This is only the start.
We are listening and learning every day and we know there are opportunities to do better. Our patients, clients, families and communities, employees, physicians, learners and volunteers, community health boards, foundations, auxiliaries, government and other important partners have wisdom and experience that will guide our efforts. We will continue to count on them to bring forward new ideas and challenge ways of thinking that no longer serve us well as we build a stronger, more responsive system together.
Our 2017-18 annual report recognizes and celebrates that spirit of learning, discovery, collaboration and innovation as we continue to work differently together for a healthier future.