Enhancing the Scope of Patient Care

July 18, 2023

According to data released from Health Quality Ontario, low-urgency patients in Ontario spend an average of 3.2 hours waiting to be assessed by a doctor. Using the Emergency Department for non-urgent medical conditions results in inflated healthcare expenses, a diminished patient experience, and additional strain to an already stressed healthcare system.

“I have worked for twenty-five years in healthcare and I never realized just how many systems had been created that drive patients to the Emergency Department for non-urgent issues,” says Jody Strik, Director of Transitions, Integrated Care and Rehab at Halton Healthcare. “Until we implemented SCOPE.”

SCOPE is designed to divert individuals with less severe health needs away from emergency departments. 

Launched in 2012, family physicians collaborated in the co-design and co-creation of SCOPE, a virtual single point of access to knowledge, resources, and cross-regional navigation. This central platform establishes connections between primary care providers operating in the community and nearby service providers who offer immediate consultations, diagnostic imaging, tailored home and community care, mental health support, and assistance in accessing various services within acute care. 

The primary care provider has access to one phone number, email, Ocean eReferral, and secure messaging system to connect to several resources, including an internist who can provide expedited access to medical services within the next 24-48 hours, a home and community care coordinator who can curate services tailored for the patient, a nurse navigator who can provide general assistance in navigating hospital and community resources, or a member of the diagnostic imaging team who can help answer questions about tests, results and refer you directly to the radiologist on-call.  

Now active across seventeen sites in the province, SCOPE has been an essential tool for physicians.

“I find SCOPE to be an incredibly useful pathway for accessing hospital resources in a timely fashion but through an outpatient setting,” says Dr. Matthew Baron, family physician. “Without this program, many of these resources, be it a specialist clinic, advanced imaging, or on-call consultant, would only be accessible to a patient through the emergency department. By setting up these types of services without an ER visit, we’re saving the patient from a prolonged visit to the hospital and reducing the burden on the ER.”

SCOPE has also been a lifeline for patients. “SCOPE saved my life. They provided responsive care and supported me as my needs changed. A referral from my doctor to access information about occupational therapy and the Ontario Disability Support Program evolved into a network of assistance,” says Francisca Zentilli, a patient. “They walked me through everything from counselling, tax matters, housing affairs, splints, emotional and medical support through difficult appointments – SCOPE was a support network for me.”

Everyone deserves responsive and holistic healthcare, and every healthcare professional deserves an effective network of health collaborators to support their practice and their patients. With SCOPE, we can work together to achieve both and enhance healthcare for all. If you would like to learn more about SCOPE, visit scopehub.ca.