Within Canada’s healthcare system, patients typically receive care from their general practitioner (GP), as well as several physician specialists. Coordinated care between physicians is important, as it is associated with better patient outcomes and satisfaction among physicians and patients. Poor communication can lead to delayed diagnoses, treatment, higher rates of adverse events, and avoidable hospitalizations. This is both a strain on the patient as well as the health care system.
We have identified two gaps in the communication between GPs and specialists that contribute to wait times in the health care system. First, the communication between GPs and specialists may be slow, and GPs often refer patients to a clinic only to be informed weeks later that the clinic does not treat the specific condition. Second, GPs will refer a patient to a specialist that has a long wait time and is unable to provide timely care to the patient.
It is important to address the concern of wait times, as they pose a significant risk to optimal patient care. Consequences of increased wait times include increased pain, suffering, and mental anguish. Delays in follow-up can additionally lead to poorer medical outcomes, and an economic cost to individuals if they are unable to work. A 2020 report conducted by the Fraser Institute indicated that waiting times for medically necessary treatment continues to increase in Canada, reported to be between 17 and 46 weeks. Wait times vary significantly across locations and specialties.
There is currently a gap in clinical practice to inform GPs about the average wait times for specialist care. Additionally, physician search engines (e.g., CPSO website) only provide a physician’s specialty, with no further information regarding the specific treatments or areas of expertise. Knowing both the estimated wait time, as well as the services a specialist can provide, would provide valuable information to a GP who is looking to refer their patient for care.
What it does
Our project, DocTalk, will provide a centralized repository of physicians with information regarding their location, wait times, procedures and treatment provided. The overall goal is to help streamline health care by optimizing referrals to physicians with a shorter wait time, who are additionally able to provide the appropriate treatment.
How we built it
Platform was prototyped using Bubble UI Wireframe.
We consulted with a family doctor to outline current challenges in referring patients to specialists. We recognized that family doctors do not have a database displaying wait times of specialists' clinics and the method of communication between a family doctor and a specialist is very outdated and inconvenient.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
It was our first time ideating our design using Bubble's interface. We had fun collaborating with a diverse group of team members.
What's next for DocTalk
Connect with more doctors and specialists to further validate our problem space and refine our solution.