Fraser Health assembled the Access and Flow Coordination Centre, a cross-functional team of experts, to work together to develop and introduce systemic changes to improve access and flow. As a result, occupancy rates of acute care sites and networks have improved, paving the way for other health authorities to follow suit.
Making sure our patients receive quality care in the right place at the right time is critical to supporting positive health outcomes and experiences. Within our system, we refer to this process as “access and flow”. When it comes to access and flow, every hour and every minute matters to our patients.
Managing access and flow within our system is complex. Prior to COVID-19, hospitals operated, on average, at greater than 100 per cent occupancy. This means our hospitals were usually full. With the onset of the pandemic and its potential to overwhelm our system, making the best of our capacity and access and flow processes became critical priorities. In response, Fraser Health assembled the Access and Flow Coordination Centre, a cross-functional team of experts, which included directors, executive directors, site medical directors and regional medical directors, from all sites, to work together to develop and introduce systemic changes to improve access and flow.
Teresa O’Callaghan is the Regional Executive Director, Access and Flow. She explained how “the core team members filled gaps, created tools, provided data, and visited sites” and how she observed the team going above and beyond in their work, “I truly believe that the nominees for this award have gone above and beyond, and continue to do so; not in pursuit of recognition, but, because they have come to fundamentally believe in what we are doing. It is my honour and privilege to work daily with this team.”
Positive measurable outcomes from the collaborative work of this team have been numerous with new processes being integrated and prioritized as a part of everyday operations across the organization. The most notable outcome is that acute care sites were able to sustain a 90 per cent occupancy rate or less on average, which reflects how effective the new access and flow strategies have been.
Changes implemented by the coordination centre include creating a new sense of shared purpose and cooperation; empowering clinical staff to make decisions and remove barriers to flow; and linking coordination centres, networks, and corporate supports. This has resulted in changing the way sites operate as single, stand-alone entities and has instead created a broad, connected network across the region.
“Sites now recognize more than ever that we work in an interconnected system and at times will be able to offer assistance and at times will require assistance. This has led to a much more collegial atmosphere, which has both improved the patient and provider experience,” explains Dr. Neil Barclay, former Executive Medical Director, Access and Flow. “This is true embodiment of the We Culture that Fraser Health is striving for.”
The success of Fraser Health’s Access and Flow Coordination Centre model has inspired other health authorities to adopt the model. The provincial Ministry of Health has also adopted the model to manage critical care access between health authorities.
We’re proud to name the Fraser Health Access and Flow Coordination Centre the recipients of a 2021 Above and Beyond Award for Best Collaboration.