Several factors contribute to long waits for specialty care, and individual physicians have little if any opportunity to influence most of them.
However, there is one factor - inefficient referral processes - that physicians can tackle within their own practices. To help them do that, the CMA, the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada joined forces to create a Referral and Consultation Process Toolbox.
The four tools found here - Intraprofessional Communications, Measuring Wait One, Central Intake and Physician Directories - have already been tried and tested and proven to improve referral and consultation processes. All are based on initiatives that have been implemented successfully across Canada.
In addition to showcasing these success stories, "how-to" guides have been provided to help doctors or health care system administrators implement changes within their practices or jurisdictions, and contact information has also been provided in case further details are required.
"This is a valuable tool," said CMA President Anna Reid. "In one place, physicians have access to referral process improvements that have been tested across the country." The toolbox, which was launched in 2012, is a "living resource" that is designed to grow and evolve as new approaches to improving referral and consultation processes are tested.
Although a recent survey determined that physicians still lack knowledge about the toolbox, 76% of respondents who were aware of it found it useful, and 20% were motivated to change their referral and consultation processes.