BLOG: Rethinking ambulatory services

BLOG: Rethinking ambulatory services

by: Sharon Pierson, vice president community medicine and population health, and Dr. Barry Lumb, physician in chief


On average each year, there are 630,000 visits across Hamilton Health Sciences’ ambulatory services. The patients who visit our clinics range from infants to seniors, and may need our help for a short-term illness or injury, while others will require support throughout their lifetime.

Our job is to enable these individuals to continue to live in their chosen community, close to family and friends, and where they are most comfortable. Ideally, they should also be empowered to manage their own care, and receive care when they need it.

That is why we’re rethinking the way ambulatory services are provided at HHS and in the regions of Hamilton and West Niagara today and in the future. Together with our health and community partners, and with input from our patients, families, staff, physicians and communities, we’re undertaking a review of ambulatory services at HHS and in our community.

Our job is to enable these individuals to continue to live in their chosen community…

We believe that there are ways to improve the delivery of outpatient services in the next several years, as well as the longer 20-year horizon as part of hospital redevelopment through Our Healthy Future.

In the short-term, our goal is to ensure a consistent and high quality experience for all outpatients. With over 170 clinics across our hospital, we know that there is lots of variability in, for example, how appointments are scheduled, clinic processes and wait times. We also know that there are best practices throughout existing clinics that can be applied more broadly to improve the patient experience. We’ll start making some of these improvements in the next few years.

Over the next 10 and 20 years, we’re committed to creating a model that takes into account demographic changes such as an aging population, new technologies, and the need to preserve precious hospital resources for the sickest patients. This model will: increase points of care through collaboration with community partners; enhance the use of technology to enable things like virtual connections for instant and real time access to hospital expertise; and be more integrated with primary care (family doctors, community clinics, etc.) to support a seamless health care journey.

By providing patients with more access to care in a well-designed and coordinated service model that is tailored to meet their unique needs, we can ensure better health outcomes, a better experience and, at the same time, reduce our community’s reliance on costly hospital infrastructure.