December 2, 2023

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Penticton, B.C. doctor hopes to expand new team-based care program – Okanagan

A physician in Penticton, B.C., is hoping to expand a new health care program

The program, called Specialist Team Care, started right here in the Okanagan and could potentially change health care in B.C., according to Dr. Michelle Teo.

Dr. Teo, who has been a rheumatologist in Penticton for the past 10 years, has researched a way for different health care professionals to work together as a team.

“This is called team-based care, and my team and I have developed a model where in the first four months, 50 to 100 per cent more patients can be seen,” said Dr. Teo.

“We’re really excited about this, the quality of the patient care improves, and patients are happier with this care. And the amount of physician burden which is driving the burnout that doctors are facing that dramatically decreases.”

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Last year, the Special Services Committee and Dr. Teo launched a pilot project to determine if their team-based care model could be transferred to other specialties.

The program is designed to help patients work with the right health care professionals, who then coordinate with other physicians in order to optimize patient care.

“Specialist Team Care is a program that is funded by the specialist services committee. That is a collaborative committee made up of the Ministry of Health and the Doctors of B.C.,” said Dr. Teo.

“We now have different specialists from nine different specialties.”

Dr. Teo hopes that this new way of health care will help eliminate long wait times for patients and support health care professionals who often face burnout.

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“We all know someone who is suffering and waiting several months, two years to see a specialist. Now, specialists, they’re doing the best job they can, but most of the time this is in isolation without working with other nurses or allied health professionals and as a result, they’re only able to work as hard as they can by themselves,” said Dr. Teo.

“I myself have experienced physician burnout and know how hard it is, especially for a physician these days that have so many balls that they are trying to juggle in the air not only with trying to provide the best possible patient care, but also being the person they need to be outside of work.”

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The team has now sent a letter to Premier David Eby as well as the Minister of Health in hopes of further expanding this program across the province.

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“I have a two-year research proposal that is specifically looking to spread this all throughout B.C. It will involve training 25 specialists, every six months for two years,” said Dr Teo.

“At the end of the two years, we will not only have 100 specialists who will lead this health care transformation within each of their specialties, but I will also be able to provide the government a strategy so that several 100 or more physicians can be trained per year.”

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