The province is moving forward on recommendations that have been made to improve access to primary health care.
Health Minister Adriana LaGrange provided details on the plan in an update on Alberta’s healthcare system yesterday (October 18, 2023).
“Today, I am pleased to announce a number of actions that will help to stabilize and strengthen Alberta’s Primary Health Care System. First, we will be forming a task force with a number of specific tasks including developing including developing an improved compensation model for Family Medicine with the goal to better support physicians and their teams to have a viable practice that can meet all of the care needs for their patients,” said LaGrange.
The task force will begin their work immediately and are expected to give an interim report in January and a final report by March.
Those recommendations include the following:
- Creating a primary health care division within Alberta Health.
- Allocating $57 million over three years to provide family doctors and nurse practitioners with support to help manage their increasing number of patients. Each provider has the potential to receive up to $10,000 annually.
- Working with the Alberta Medical Association to create a task force to recommend a new payment model for family physicians that encourages comprehensive primary care – where a patient has a regular family doctor who they develop a long-term relationship with and who works with them to ensure all their health care needs are met.
- Developing a memorandum of understanding with the Alberta Medical Association to collaborate on a transition to a new physician compensation model, modernize primary care governance and enable family doctors to spend more time with patients and less time on paperwork and immediately stabilize primary care.
- Expanding online mental health services, allowing doctors to bill for virtual mental health checks and therapy, and compensating them for extra time spent with patients virtually.
- Ensuring doctors get paid if patients can’t prove insurance coverage, reducing administrative burden. This is known as “good faith” claims.
- Introducing a payment system that will support nurse practitioners to open their own clinics, take on patients and offer services based on their scope of practice, training and expertise. Nurse practitioners have completed graduate studies ensuring that they are properly trained to examine patients, provide diagnoses and prescribe medication.
The province will also be working to strengthen Indigenous health care.
“Many Indigenous patients and families do not access the healthcare system because they do not trust it and because they face language barriers and experience racism. They are often re-traumatized from telling their experience multiple times during their healthcare journey,” said LaGrange.
An Indigenous Health Ministry will be started in Alberta to improve connections between Indigenous People and Alberta’s Health Care system.
Immediate actions include:
- Creating an Indigenous health division within Alberta Health.
- Creating a $20-million fund for Indigenous communities to design and deliver innovative primary health care services and projects.
- Creating an Indigenous patient complaints investigator and Elders roster to investigate incidences of racism during the delivery of health care and provide culturally safe support to Indigenous patients throughout the patient complaint process.
- Investing in a community-based Indigenous patient navigator program to support Indigenous peoples throughout their health care journey.
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