Queen's Family Health Team a leader in family medicine
By Anne Craig, Communications Officer
Times are changing in the field of family medicine, and the Queen’s Family Health Team (QFHT) is a leader in this new model of health care. Led by Dr. Glenn Brown, Head, Department of Family Medicine, Queen's University, the team includes physicians, residents, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, a pharmacist, a dietitian and a foot care nurse, all focused on improving health care for their patients.
It used to be that family physicians trained to be autonomous professionals, working in a private office with only a receptionist and a nurse to help with the work. But this model of care became unsustainable and was limited in its ability to meet the primary care needs of patients. As people age they have more health issues, and addressing these issues is much easier in a team environment in which team members can work together to provide care more efficiently.
Last year, more than 55,000 patient visits occurred at the QFHT’s two Kingston clinic sites located at 220 Bagot Street and 115 Clarence Street. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care recently approved the addition of QFHT allied health staff at the Department’s academic site in Belleville. Dr. Karen Hall Barber, QFHT Physician Lead, and Diane Cross, Clinic Manager, in collaboration with their team, have developed and manage a number of patient programs focused on health promotion and disease prevention. Patient programs include diabetes care, chronic pain self-management, lactation support for new mothers, anti-coagulation management, social work counselling and a smoking cessation program.
“Team work and collaboration are essential elements in improving patient care,” says Ms. Cross. “It’s important for the team to contribute in the development and implementation of new ideas and programs and to share in the success equally.”
A tangible result of the team’s success is two recent awards the QFHT earned from the Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario (AFHTO) Bright Light Awards program. The Queen’s team won for Meaningful Use of Electronic Medical Records and Innovation in Interprofessional Collaborative Team Implementation. Out of 210 family health teams across Ontario, the QFHT won two of 12 awards presented. In 2012, the year the Bright Light Awards program was launched, the QFHT won the award for “Getting Data and Using it to Improve Care” and earned one of four awards for “Best Practices in Health Promotion and Chronic Care.”
“We use our electronic medical record program, ‘OSCAR,’ to document our patients’ medical history, and to track certain indicators of good health,” says Dr. Brown. “Patients’ results, such as blood sugar levels for diabetics or blood pressure levels, can be monitored and graphed to show changes over time. This helps to include the patients in monitoring and taking responsibility for their own health.”
Despite the successes, Dr. Brown says the team is still scratching the surface in terms of what is possible. “Our patients are benefitting from the leadership of this team, but this is a journey and it’s not over yet. There is still work to be done.”