Optimizing the interprofessional workforce for centralized intake of patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid disease: Case study

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Introduction: This case study was part of a larger programme of research in Alberta that aims to develop an evidence-based model to optimize centralized intake province-wide to improve access to care. A centralized intake model places all referred patients on waiting lists based on severity and then directs them to the most appropriate provider or service. Our research focused on an in-depth assessment of two well-established models currently in place in Alberta to 1) enhance our understanding of the roles and responsibilities of staff in current intake processes, 2) identify workforce issues and opportunities within the current models, and 3) inform the potential use of alternative providers in the proposed centralized intake model. Case description: Our case study included two centralized intake models in Alberta associated with three clinics. One model involved one clinic that focuses on rheumatoid disease. The other model involved two clinics that focus on osteoarthritis. We completed a document review and interviews with managers and staff from both models. Finally, we reviewed the scope of practice regulations for a range of health-care providers to examine their suitability to contribute to the centralized intake process of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid disease. Discussion and evaluation: Interview findings from both models suggested a need for an electronic medical record and eReferral system to improve the efficiency of the current process and reduce staff workload. Staff interviewed also spoke of the need to have a permanent musculoskeletal screener available to streamline the intake process for osteoarthritis patients. Both models relied on registered nurses, medical office assistants, and physicians throughout their intake process. Our scope of practice review revealed that several providers have the competencies to screen, assess, and provide case management at different junctures in the centralized intake of patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid disease. Conclusions: Using a broader range of providers in the centralized intake of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid disease has the potential to improve access and care specifically related to the assessment and management of patients. This may enhance the patient care experience and address current access issues.




Suter, E., Birney, A., Charland, P., Misfeldt, R., Weiss, S., Howden, S. J., … Marshall, D. (2015). Optimizing the interprofessional workforce for centralized intake of patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid disease: Case study. Human Resources for Health, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12960-015-0033-3

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