Saskatchewan family physicians have access to a new tool designed to help them improve patient care and how they run their practices. Primary Care Panel Reports are voluntary reports that provide physicians who request them with a wealth of information about the patients they see regularly. The reports do not contain any identifiable patient information. Protection of individual patient confidentiality has been paramount in the development of the reports.
The initial version includes information about a doctor’s population (also called patient panel) such as age, sex distribution, frequency of visits, common reasons for visits, use of other health services (e.g., visits to other physicians, to emergency departments, admissions to hospital). The 16-page reports also provide physicians with information about their prescribing patterns for certain medications (antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, and opioids), relative to meaningful targets or benchmarks.
The reports were developed by the Health Quality Council (HQC) with support from the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA), the Saskatchewan College of Family Physicians, and the Department of Academic Family Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. Data for the panel reports were extracted from administrative health databases at the Ministry of Health and eHealth Saskatchewan under a data-sharing agreement. eHealth Saskatchewan also contributed technology and infrastructure support to this work. An advisory group involving eight family physicians provided direction on what information to include in the reports.
The reports were first piloted with family physicians practising in the Prince Albert area starting in October 2018. Prince Albert’s Dr. Christo Lotz says his report has caused him to reflect on his own practice. He was surprised to see that his level of continuity with patients was considerably lower than he expected. However, the discrepancy made more sense once he realized his results combined the patients he sees in his by-appointment-only practice (who receive most of their care from him) and patients he sees at a separate walk-in clinic (who receive most of their care from other providers).
“The common denominator for all family physicians would be whether it reflects how you wish to practice and where potential areas for improvement would be,” says Dr. Lotz. For him, the panel report has prompted him to ask questions about his practice he hadn’t previously considered. He says he’s looking at ways to use it to “interrogate” his Electronic Medical Record on a regular basis, to learn more about the way he delivers care.
Dr. Jessica Harris, a family medicine resident in Saskatoon who helped design the reports said her counterparts across Canada have identified quality improvement as an important area of focus during training. “As a family medicine resident soon to be entering practice in Saskatchewan, I believe these panel reports will help me to better understand my practice, and ultimately to provide the best care possible to my patients,” said Harris. “I look forward to receiving my first report.”
HQC is organizing information sessions around the province, to introduce physicians to the report, and show them how the tool can be used to gain insights into their practice and identify opportunities to improve their clinical care. Physicians who request their report and reflect on the information it contains will receive continuing professional development credits (Mainpro+) from College of Family Physicians of Canada.
Saskatchewan family physicians interested in requesting their report can so do by visiting www.bestpracticesask.ca.
For more information about Primary Care Panel Reports, or to arrange interviews, contact
Saskatchewan Medical Association