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NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
2010HSERV0061-001293

Oct. 20, 2010

Ministry of Health Services

 

 

ER PATIENTS TO BENEFIT FROM PATIENT-FOCUSED FUNDING

 

VANCOUVER – British Columbia’s busiest emergency departments will receive an additional $22 million in patient-focused funding this year to help ease congestion and reduce patient wait times, Health Services Minister Kevin Falcon announced today.

 

“We are building on the success of emergency decongestion pilot projects in the Lower Mainland, where up to 40 per cent more patients experienced shorter waits in some Vancouver and Fraser Valley hospitals,” Falcon said. “With almost two million visits to B.C. emergency rooms last year alone, this investment will help ensure patients receive timely, high-quality patient care.”

 

Falcon said the improvements in patient wait times last year were achieved despite a 15 per cent increase in emergency room volumes, attributed primarily to the H1N1 flu.

 

The additional funding will be distributed among 15 B.C. emergency departments that account for almost half of the ER visits in the province, including hospitals in the Lower Mainland, on Vancouver Island, in the Interior and in the North.

 

“Innovation in the emergency department – from bedside technology and life-saving research to funding initiatives such as this – is revolutionizing the way we provide emergency care,” said Dr. Eric Grafstein, head of emergency services for Providence Health Care. “Since the emergency decongestion pilot project began, we’ve made design and care improvements that have resulted in reduced wait times, shorter emergency department stays for patients waiting for a hospital bed, and improved staff morale.”

 

Patient-focused funding is a method of tying the money health authorities receive to the quantity and quality of health-care services they provide. The emergency department funding will be invested in a variety of site-specific projects aimed at moving patients either into a hospital bed or back into the community within defined target times. The BC Health Services Purchasing Organization, established in the spring, directs dollars based on recommendations from clinical experts from each health authority.

 

“Patient focused funding allows us to build on the already great emergency care we provide at three of our busiest hospitals,” said Interior Health CEO Dr. Robert Halpenny. “I know our front-line staff will welcome the opportunity to improve our efficiency and deliver the most timely care to the patients we serve.”

 

            Each emergency department measures the time patients arrive to when they are treated and either discharged or admitted to the hospital, and categorises these patients based on the complexity of their medical needs. With patient-focused funding, reducing wait times earns financial rewards the health authorities can reinvest in further improvements to patient care.

 

            For example, Nanaimo Regional General Hospital introduced ER “streaming” during the pilot phase of this project. During waiting periods, patients who met the streaming criteria were seated in chairs in the designated streaming area, allowing stretchers to be used mainly for initial assessments, treatment of the more acute patients, or for patients who are too frail or ill to sit in a chair. By introducing this simple triaging technique, the hospital reduced wait times by 20 to 40 per cent.

 

Today’s investment is part of the $250 million announced earlier this year that will be used to implement province-wide patient-focused funding. By 2012-13 the proportion of money tied to patient-focussed funding is expected to reach 20 per cent of eligible health care spending while the other 80 per cent will remain as block funding. This includes $80 million in 2010-11 and $170 million in 2011-12. Health authorities have access to this money on top of their projected budget increase of 15 per cent over the next three years and will continue to enhance service quality and patient care.

 

Since 2001, the BC government together with regional hospital districts and foundations have committed over $460 million to improve and expand more than 30 emergency departments across the province.

           

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A backgrounder follows.

 

Media contact:

 

Bernadette Murphy

Media Relations Manager

Ministry of Health Services

250 952-1887 (media line)

 

 

For more information on government services or to subscribe to the Province’s news feeds using RSS, visit the Province’s website at www.gov.bc.ca.

 

 


 

BACKGROUNDER

For Immediate Release
2010HSERV0061-001293

Oct. 20, 2010

Ministry of Health Services

 

 

 

 

PATIENT-FOCUSED FUNDING AND EMERGENCY DEPARTMENTS

 

The 15 emergency departments in British Columbia that will be receiving patient-focused funding are: Vancouver General, St. Paul’s, Lions Gate, Richmond General, Burnaby, Royal Columbian, Surrey Memorial, Abbotsford Regional General Hospital, Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, Victoria General Hospital, Royal Jubilee Hospital, Kelowna General Hospital, Vernon Jubilee, Royal Inland, and Prince George.

 

Projected ER Patient-Focused Funding by Health Authority:

 

 

Full/partial*

Projected Total 2010-11**

Vancouver General

Full year

$5,929,000

St. Paul’s

Full year

$2,762,000

Lions Gate

Full year

$2,152,000

Richmond

Full year

$1,554,000

VCHA Total

 

$12,397,000

Burnaby

Full year

$1,248,000

Royal Columbian

Full year

$1,870,000

Surrey Memorial

Full year

$2,144,000

Abbotsford Regional

Full year

$1,177,000

FHA Total

 

$6,439,000

Nanaimo Hospital

Partial year

$454,000

Royal Jubilee/Victoria General

Partial year

$1,134,000

VIHA Total

 

$1,589,000

Kelowna General

Partial year

$629,000

Vernon

Partial year

$272,000

Kamloops RIH

Partial year

$403,000

IHA Total

 

$1,305,000

Prince George

Partial year

$261,000

NHA Total

 

$261,000

Provincial total

 

$21,990,000

 

* Patients in the Lower Mainland are already benefiting from shorter ER wait times because of pilot programs developed through the Lower Mainland Innovation and Integration Fund. Because these efficiencies are ongoing, they’ve received patient-focused funding since the beginning of the year.

 

**These are projections only and are likely to change depending on how each hospital meets the wait time targets.


 

 

Total emergency department visits in B.C in 2009-10: 1,963,714

 

Total emergency department visits in the 15 hospitals receiving patient-focused funding in 2009-10: 864,016 (44 per cent of the provincial total).

 

 

What are Emergency Department Wait Time Targets?

 

Hospitals are measured on:

-          The number of patients admitted to the hospital from the emergency department within 10 hours.

-          The number of patients released from the emergency department within the target waits (within four hours for higher needs patients and within two hours for patients with less complex needs).

 

Although there is no single organization that sets wait time standards in Canada, these targets are considered nationally as the appropriate standards of care for emergency room patients.

 

Examples of Innovations in Emergency Department Care:

 

o   Through pilot projects in the Lower Mainland, VCH has treated and discharged 22 per cent more patients with lower medical concerns within the two-hour target, while Fraser Health has treated and discharged 107 per cent more patients within the two-hour target.

o   In 2008-09, streaming at Kelowna General Hospital decreased the time to see a physician for lower acuity patients, despite increases in overall emergency department volumes. As well, the KGH streaming project led to a lower percentage of patients who left the emergency department without being seen.

o   Patient streaming was introduced on Vancouver Island early in 2009. Streaming at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital has had a positive impact on wait times for patients. Since the implementation of streaming, wait times for patients with less urgent conditions to see a doctor at NRGH have been reduced between 20 and 40 per cent. 

 

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Media contact:

 

Bernadette Murphy

Media Relations Manager

Ministry of Health Services

250 952-1887 (media line)

 

 

For more information on government services or to subscribe to the Province’s news feeds using RSS, visit the Province’s website at www.gov.bc.ca.