Since its start in 1997, RSRS has worked with hundreds of Canadian doctors who have closed their medical practices. Whether retiring or relocating, saying farewell to your patients is never a simple task. In many cases we see doctors who consistently delay the closure because they can’t bring themselves to the day that they’llno longer go into that office that has served their career for 20, 30 or even 40 years. For others, it is also the
sense of leaving their patients in the lurch.
This blog will deal with the some of the things that doctors can do to ease the issue for the patients. It’s all about expectation management.
While the CMPA and the provincial Colleges of Physicians offer their own guidelines to closing practices, RSRS offers the following pointers based on our years of dealing with both physicians and patients:
1. Provide Proper Notification
Posting a notice in your office, mailing a letter to active patients or running a small ad in your local paper (for smaller communities), are some of the key ways to ensure that you get the message out. We’ve found that doing this approximately 60 days in advance is appropriate. In a mailer, you have the opportunity to personalize an opening and closing
paragraph to your patients, but the emphasis should be on “continuity of care”.
2. Encourage Transfer of the Medical Record
While you may have been the sole custodian of your patient’s record to date, things are changing quickly. Patients should be encouraged to get a copy of their records, both for
themselves as well as for their new care provider. Patients need to be included because their new doctor (if/when they find one) often doesn’t want a stack of paper and
often will make do with a verbal summary from the patient. Today’s patients are also more involved than ever in their own healthcare management.
3. Canvass Your Colleagues to Take on Patients
It’s possible that a couple of physicians you know in the area might be able to squeeze in a few of your “special needs” patients. While not always possible, we’ve found that with a little effort most doctors can take on a select, few more patients.
4. Give Special Consideration to Long-Term Care, Acute Care Patients, and Seniors’ Needs
Ensure that your long-term care or acute-care patients have sufficient prescriptions and that their vaccinations are brought up-to-date. Provide them with the location of nearby
Walk-In Clinics, Nurse Practitioners, or Public Health Clinics while they are transitioning to a new physician.
5. A Personal Note
While a personal phone call to each patient is simply not realistic, a note of a more personal nature in the form of some heartfelt sentiment in the opening and closing paragraph of a Letter to Patients (or Posting) is in order and will go a long way to close the circle for your patients.
6. Health Care Connect
Finding a new doctor for each of your patients is not realistic. Pointing your patients to
resources like Health Care Connect is. This government sponsored service (for Ontario patients) will help your patients find a new health care provider.
7. Use RSRS to Help with All of the Above
RSRS has assisted doctors with practice closure for 15 years and will work with you to set out timelines leading right up to your closure date. We will assist you each step of the way to make the transition so much easier for you, your patients and your staff.
Contact RSRS today for more information. 1-888-563-3732.