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Patients say work still needs to be done to reduce wait times

KAWARTHA LAKES: The results are in from the City of Kawartha Lakes Family Health Team’s most recent survey of patients across the local area. The data revealed some interesting findings on how local residents feel about their local care, the family health team approach, the health care system in general and the main challenges to be addressed. While the vast majority of respondents indicated they found their health care provider to be caring, friendly and easy-to-talk-to and reported overwhelmingly that their providers are caring, good listeners and thorough, the broader answers were also encouraging. A clear majority of patients survey ranked the fact that they feel their care is “patient-centred” as the best part of the care they receive. “We are very pleased with this positive feedback about the team from our patients”, said Dr. Eric Ready, Chair of the City of Kawartha Lakes Family Health Team’s Board of Directors. “We are always working to provide the highest quality care,” he added. “Reducing wait times is an ongoing effort and priority for the Board of Directors.” Of particular note, 87% of patients responded that family health teams have been a positive change to the health care system. More than 90% stated they were very concerned or somewhat concerned about possible cuts to health care funding. Interesting, while shorter wait times and more doctors were identified by the most patients as the keys to “what the perfect health care system would look like”, the close 4th place response was that the system is perfect as is. Also, more than half of patients who replied to the survey noted that they felt at least one of their visits to the family health team has prevented a visit to the emergency room (ER), thereby getting immediate care, saving the system money and reducing wait times at the ER. The team is also aware that patients identified office hours and appointment wait times as the main challenges of care local. This correlated within the survey where patients said that appointment availability and wait times were the top areas when asked what the health team could do better. Access to transportation was ranked third by patients when asked about the challenges they experience in obtaining care. “Our team’s health care professionals get all the credit,” noted Executive Director Mike Perry. “We continue to take steps to reduce time patients have to wait both for an appointment and once in the waiting room. We do have some same or next day appointment, certainly for urgent cases.” The family health team recently implemented a system of automated reminders for patients in order to help increase timely access by reducing the number of patients who do not show up for their appointment. Knowing in advance of patients who cannot attend helps open more appointments sooner. Julia Skinner of Bobcaygeon, a member of the team’s Patient Advisory Group, has also reviewed the results. “In addition to the survey, it is wonderful have a voice in local health care,” said explained. “I am very pleased, as a patient, to serve on the team’s Advisory group an provide input from a patient perspective.” The survey was replied to by 241 patients which was a response rate of almost 25%; a very high response rate for surveys generally. The survey applied to health care providers of the family health team (e.g. nurse practitioners, pharmacist, registered dietitian, mental health team), not including local physicians. Responses skewed female The City of Kawartha Lakes Family Health team provides primary care to some 36,000 patients at 13 locations across the City. To obtain a family doctor, please contact Health Care Connect at. ; or call Danielle at 705.934.2704.

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