Primary Care Networks: Local Solutions for Local Health Care Needs
Some Albertans may not know what a Primary Care Network (PCN) is but chances are, if they have a family physician anywhere in the province, they benefit from this innovative, multi-disciplinary health care model under their physician’s lead.
Since the inception of the first PCN six years ago, there are now 40 Primary Care Networks across the province that provides care to more than 2.5 million Albertans. Approximately 79 per cent of family physicians in the province are now working in PCNs.
“This achievement could not have been reached without the dedication of family physicians, allied health professionals and the collaborative nature of the previous tripartite agreement between the Alberta Medical Association, Alberta Health Services and Alberta Health and Wellness”, says Lee Hall, Program Director for the Primary Care Initiative (PCI).
What is Primary Care?
Primary care is the first point of contact a person has with the health system and is typically provided by family physicians, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, mental health specialists, occupational and respiratory therapists and other health care professionals. Primary care includes the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of various health conditions.
In 2003, Alberta Health and Wellness, the Alberta Medical Association and Alberta's Regional Health Authorities (now Alberta Health Services) established the Primary Care Initiative to improve access to family physicians and other frontline health care providers in Alberta.
The purpose of the PCI is to develop Primary Care Networks and support them in meeting the objectives of the program.
In the 2003 Trilateral Master Agreement, this tripartite outlined an agenda with the goal of:
• Increasing the number of Albertans with access to primary care services
• Managing access to appropriate round-the-clock primary care services
• Increasing the emphasis on:
o Health promotion
o Disease and injury prevention
o Care of patients with medically complex problems
o Care of patients with chronic diseases
• Improving coordination of primary health services with other health care services including hospitals, long-term care and specialty care services
• Fostering a team approach to providing primary health care.
What is a Primary Care Network?
A Primary Care Network creates a partnership between Alberta Health Services, family physicians and other health care providers to work together in a collaborative team approach, to provide primary care to patients. A PCN may be comprised of one clinic with many physicians and support staff, or several physicians in several clinics across a geographic region. PCNs operate out of a mix of centralized and decentralized offices.
Each network is unique and has the flexibility to develop programs and provide services that meet the specific requirements of its community. This approach allows and encourages PCNs to focus on and build programs based on the needs of the local patient population.
Rural Health Care
Availability to and access of health care services in rural areas is a concern for many Albertans. PCNs have developed programs and services to improve access to and coordination of primary care for residents, effectively providing services previously only attained within urban centres. Lack of after-hours care, patients without a family physician, long wait lists, limited access to specialists clinics and accessibility to multi-disciplinary care are amongst many obstacles that rural health care deals with. The PCNs objective is to address these issues, amongst others, and provide patients with effective solutions.
Leduc Beaumont Devon Primary Care Network
The Leduc Beaumont Devon Primary Care Network (LBD PCN) began operations in 2006 and has 100% membership amongst its participating member clinics in its geographic network. The LBD PCN provides services for patients in the City of Leduc, towns of Beaumont, Devon and Calmar and all communities in Leduc County. A group of 49 family physicians in 11 clinics along with additional health care professionals work together to improve primary care for more than 54,000 people in the region.
Based on the needs of its demographics, the LBD PCN, which celebrated its 5 year anniversary on March 1, 2011, provides programs and services to its community such as:
• Leduc After-Hours Clinic
• Beaumont After-Hours Clinic
• S.M.I.L.E. (Self Manage to Improve your Life Everyday ) Healthcare Program
• Chronic Disease Management
• Community Social Worker
• Leduc Eldercare Consultation Team
• Referral Coordination Program
• Smoking Cessation Program
• Speciality Clinics
“The tremendous progress that we’ve made in our PCN in the last five years was made possible due to the strong leadership and innovation of our member family physicians and healthcare professionals within our PCN.” states Len Frank, Executive Director of the Leduc Beaumont Devon Primary Care Network. When asked what this means for people within the network, Frank says, “Our programs have grown from a series of great ideas to a full range of exceptional programs with dedicated, caring staff providing services to improve the health of our community.”
Candra Tinis | Communications Coordinator
Leduc Beaumont Devon Primary Care Network
#301 4710 - 50th Street
Leduc, AB T9E 6W2
Phone: (780) 986-6624
Fax: (780) 986-6634
Printed in AAMDC Rural Routes Summer 2011 magazine