What is Pathways?
Pathways is an online resource that allows GPs and their office staff to quickly access current and accurate referral information, including wait times and areas of expertise, for specialists and specialty clinics. In addition, Pathways makes available hundreds of patient and physician resources that are categorized and searchable. Access to Pathways is currently limited to GPs and/or NPs (and their staff) within British Columbia who are members of a Division of Family Practice, as well as specialists who fall within the geographic boundaries of these Divisions.
Pathways was first developed by the Fraser Northwest Division as a tool that could help improve patient referrals made by GPs to specialists and specialty clinics. It was then adopted as a pilot project by GPSC in 2014 and rolled out to 12 Divisions, including Vancouver, all Divisions in the Fraser Health catchment area, and Kootenay Boundary. After demonstrating the success of Pathways in these Divisions, GPSC further authorized expansion of Pathways across the province in 2015, which is ongoing. The entire process has been directed and led by physicians, from initial conception through project implementation, and this is still the case today.
The key goals of Pathways include:
- Allowing GPs to identify the most appropriate specialists with shorter wait times.
- Simplify the patient referral process by easily identifying specific areas of practice offered by each specialist and clinic.
- Providing GPs with the most up-to-date information possible to ensure appropriateness of referrals.
- Decreasing the incidence of re-referrals, thereby increasing the efficiency of patient care.
What can Divisions do to prepare for Pathways?
Divisions are excited about the potential of Pathways and frequently ask what they can do to prepare for implementation in their region. The Provincial Pathways team works closely with Divisions to understand the steps involved in this process, the resources needed for successful implementation, and the timeline involved. Divisions will be provided with a comprehensive training program prior to implementation and are fully supported throughout the process.
While Divisions are not necessarily encouraged to start Pathways data collection before making contact with and receiving support from the Provincial team (as the process is quite specific), Divisions may have collected physician, clinic, or community resource data previously for other initiatives that can help streamline Pathways data collection.
Key considerations in preparing for implementation include:
- Understanding how many specialists fall within your Division’s catchment area (including visiting specialists). You may even want to collect some basic contact information for each to make data collection more efficient once implementation commences.
- Considering strategies to engage these specialists during the data collection process, to make your Division’s Pathways site as comprehensive as possible.
- Consider strategies to engage your GP users to encourage uptake within your community.
- Identify physician (and/or MOA) champions who can help spread interest and enthusiasm for Pathways, and who can help lead your implementation process.
- Think beyond implementation – what enabling factors will help continue to make Pathways successful in your region well into the future?
Understand that a successful implementation (and the subsequent maintenance of data collected) is primarily contingent on successful relationship building between your Division’s Pathways team and the physician community. Physicians that are engaged are more likely to understand the benefits of Pathways to their own practice and to then make meaningful contributions to data collection and maintenance.
Please contact us here for further information.