Dialogue Volume 15, Issue 3 2019 - Page 11

FEATURE Continuity of Care policies Availability & Coverage Managing Tests made to the approved policies as a result of the consultation. The list is not exhaustive and physicians are advised to go online to read all of the expectations. AVAILABILITY AND COVERAGE The revised Availability and Coverage policy retains the spirit and intention of the draft pol- icy but has been updated to ensure the policy better reflects the realities of practice while still setting an appropriate minimum standard. Phone and voicemail The policy requires physicians to have an office phone that is answered and/or allows voice mails to be left during regular office hours. In response to feedback regarding the risks and potential burden associated with requir- ing physicians to allow voicemail messages to be left outside of operating hours, the revised policy has been narrowed to only require their use during business hours. After-hours Care The draft policy included a requirement that physicians have a plan in place to coordinate patient care after-hours in order to minimize unnecessary visits to walk-in clinics or the ER. In response to feedback that this would unduly burden individual physicians and would be akin to requiring continuous access to care, the expectation has been revised to focus on informing patients about when and where to access appropriate care outside office hours. Transitions in Care Walk-in Clinics Temporary Absences from Practice The draft policy requirement that physicians make coverage arrangements for patient care during temporary absences has been refined to require physicians to take “reasonable steps” (what is reasonable depends on a variety of factors) to make coverage arrangements and to notify patients of appropriate access points to care if no arrangements can be made. This change was made in response to feedback that there are some instances where it simply will not be possible to arrange coverage. Coverage for Critical Test Results Physicians must ensure that critical test results can be received and reviewed at all times, including outside of regular office hours and during temporary absences from practice. The expectation was updated to clarify that the expectation only applies to critical test results and that the intent is to enable appropriate communication to the patient when immedi- ate emergency intervention is needed; not to provide patient care directly. MANAGING TESTS The Managing Tests policy was revised to bet- ter focus on the most essential elements of test results management. ‘No News is Good News’ Recognizing the need to strike a balance be- tween practice management issues and patient access to their test results, use of “No News is Good News” practices has been retained in the ISSUE 3, 2019 DIALOGUE 11