January 30, 2020

Specialist Clinics: Celebrating success in a time of change

The Specialist Clinics across Northern Hospital, Broadmeadows Centre and Craigieburn Centre had a very busy and successful year in 2019.

Last year, Specialist Clinics managed 135,641 referrals, and the number was up from 130,800 in 2018. The number of attendances in clinics was 198,000 in 2019, up from 189,100 in 2018. Fail to attend rate prior to Q-Flow was around 22 per cent, and since the introduction of Q-Flow, it is down to 18.2 per cent, showing significant improvement.

“Our urgent KPI was 98.8 per cent in December, which means we are seeing patients who require an urgent appointment within 30 days of receiving a referral.  Only four referrals were outside that time frame and those patients were seen within a couple of days after the date. That is the highest for Northern Health ever,” explained Cathy Fletcher, Nurse Unit Manager.

The department has been through a lot of change. When the Q-Flow was introduced in October, it has made a huge difference in workflow and improved communication to patients. The clinics also introduced a new contact centre, with a 105,000 calls that came through that centre last year.

“We’ve had really good response with Q-Flow. It has definitely helped patients come for appointments because they have received their reminders. We have had a lot of great experience with the volunteers helping us with Q-Flow. From our point of view, it has been a great thing for patient experience, as for us as an organisation. We have had some challenges but they have now settled,” said Danalene Moss, Clerical Supervisor.

The team has embraced change is proud of the coordinated patient care they provide. On a busy day, around 950 patients are seen in the clinics.

“We had a situation when patient transport was unavailable due to demand, to get our patient home. He ended up being taken home in a taxi, escorted by one of our staff members,” said Carolyn Wallace, ANUM.

The team is also working between nursing and medical to facilitate best patient care.

“We had a patient with impaired mobility. A multi-disciplinary approach was needed for that patient that required a number of different people to see them. Our team coordinated for the patient to be seen in one area, and have three different clinicians, from three different services see them on that day. The patient was seen by all the right people on one occasion, not having to be come into appointments at different times,” said Vicki Hutchinson, Clinical Lead.

The team have acknowledged the help they had to make 2019 a very successful year of improving patient experience, including interpreters and a dedicated PSA for Specialist Clinics. Twenty percent of patients who present at specialist clinics need the help of the interpreter.

“Interpreters need a bit of a a shout too, they are doing a great job,”said Rebecca Clark, Clinical Nurse Specialist.

“Having Lal Cinzah, PSA with us for the past 18 months, has helped improve patient services. He is always happy assist, and nothing is too much trouble for him,” added Cathy, NUM.

When asked about what the team like most about working in specialist clinics, they resounding response was, “The team, camaraderie, diversity of work and independence. No day is the same. Just one thank you makes a day better.”

Featured image: Catherine Fletcher NUM (second from the right) with Northern Hospital Epping Specialist Clinic team