Facility Engagement in Interior Health

I have been actively involved with the Facility Engagement Initiative within Interior Health (IH) since it began. My involvement has been as both the IH Facility Engagement physician liaison and chair of the Kelowna General Hospital Facility Engagement working group. As of 2018, 20 facilities across IH have initiated more than 200 Facility Engagement activities. In short, the initiative at Interior Health is flourishing.

When I think about where we started only a few years ago, I’m very excited to see that our sites are brimming with enthusiasm, particularly since there are a wide variety of projects underway, and the physician engagement among the groups continue to be excellent and growing.

Facility Engagement (www.facilityengagement.ca) is a provincial initiative that originates from the 2014–19 Physician Master Agreement. It aims to strengthen relationships, communication, and collaboration between health authorities and facility-based physicians to improve the physician work environment and the delivery of patient care. 

To me, one of the positive impacts of this project has been the interdivisional and interdepartmental opportunities to regularly collaborate, such as pediatrics meeting with emergency or radiology meeting with surgery; these cross-collaborations are new. Getting physicians together to discuss common issues is very positive step. 

Interior Health has committed to supporting Facility Engagement, both with my liaison position and with Dr Harsh Hundal as an executive medical director who has this initiative as an important part of his portfolio.

Last December, physician representatives from each IH facility, health administrators and executives, and representatives from HEABC and the Specialist Services Committee (SSC) met for the Interior Health Facility Engagement Symposium. The event was an excellent opportunity for learning and dialogue, to exchange ideas, to build relationships, and for everyone to get a feel for the initiatives underway at other IH sites.

While all Facility Engagement projects are unique and vary in length, they share a common theme, which is to give physicians a meaningful voice to address issues that affect them. For example, the Lillooet hospital physician group has increased mental health care access for children and youth with mental health issues. Initiated by Dr Nancy Humber, the project has physicians working together with local and regional Interior Health representatives, along with schools, Indigenous counselors, and other community members. Two child and youth psychiatrists provide outreach clinics to Lillooet and surrounding area. 

At Vernon Jubilee Hospital, Dr Jason Doyle expressed concerns about redundant laboratory testing. In collaboration with the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Physician Society, they examined laboratory utilization and developed recurrent laboratory testing guidelines for inpatients. As a result of the changes, we hope that patients will experience less anxiety and discomfort and avoid unnecessary tests, and that cost savings will be realized. 

These are just some of the many impressive projects happening across the health authority and I am ecstatic that IH is using the Facility Engagement Initiative to improve areas in need. 
—John Falconer MD, FRCPC
Interior Health Facility Engagement Physician Liaison
Chair, Kelowna General Hospital Facility Engagement Working Group

John Falconer, MD, FRCPC. Facility Engagement in Interior Health. BCMJ, Vol. 60, No. 4, May, 2018, Page(s) 190 - News.

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