Dr. Padraig Casey, a family physician and president of the Medical Society of P.E.I., was able to relax more on his summer holiday this year, because of a change in how his practice operates.
Casey is part of Cornwall/Crapaud Medical Home, one of five medical homes launched by the Department of Health in April. The medical homes practise a team-based approach to patient care. Not every patient visit involves the doctor — it could be a registered nurse, a physiotherapist, or another health professional as appropriate.
"There were definitely challenges at the beginning to convince some patients that they didn't need to see a doctor every time they came," said Casey.
"But because of the quality of the care and the good access at the clinic in Cornwall those problems quickly receded."
And a side effect of the way the practice works is more peace of mind for Casey.
Previously, working on his own, Casey essentially had to shut down his practice when he took time off, which only meant putting off work to be done, and working evenings and weekends in an effort to catch up when he returned.
"When you're away you'd be worried about the paperwork building up behind you or what might await you on your return," he said.
"And also, your patients aren't getting the care they need, or maybe their results are not getting checked when you're away."
The system is better for doctors, who can take a well-earned break, and patients, who aren't put on hold while their doctor is away, said Casey.
Decades-old bureaucracy a barrier
The medical home is the new preferred model of care, says the Department of Health, but Casey said there are still problems with getting them established.
While medical professionals are keen to join them, and establishing them is the declared mission of government, there is a lot of bureaucracy and red tape in the middle getting in the way.
"We have cultures and systems built up in P.E.I. that have been decades in the making, in terms of funding and authorizing things like hiring and spending," said Casey.
Hiring the appropriate staff, such as nurse practitioners, RNs and physiotherapists can bog down in that decades-old bureaucracy, he said.
The medical society is working with Health P.E.I. and the Department of Health to remove those barriers, he said.