The Case for Continuity
Continuity is essential and foundational change elements in the implementation of the Patient’s Medical Home. Evidence is clear that when patients have a longitudinal relationship with a single family physician, results are better quality of care and a reduced overall health care system utilization and costs. This means that patients who regularly visit a family doctor are healthier and live longer.
PCNs reduce acute care use
Primary Care Networks (PCNs) improve access to primary health care services and reduce acute care costs. Health Quality Council of Alberta research confirms that patients attached to a Primary Care Network (PCN) showed decreased use of acute care services (e.g., Emergency room visits, reduced length of hospital stay) while visits to their family doctor increased. When patients visit their family doctor consistently it results in better continuity of care for them and ultimately saves the health care system money.
Investing in primary care bends the cost curve and improves patient care.
No jurisdiction has reduced health care costs without a significant investment in primary care. 1.2% of the overall government health care budget is spent on Primary Care Networks. Research confirms that increasing investments in primary care curbs health care spending in other areas such as acute care (e.g., emergency departments) and improves health outcomes. Increased investment in primary care is consistently associated with lower rates of hospitalization for conditions that should be preventable by accessing primary care services. Alberta data from various sources including Alberta Health Services and Health Quality Council of Alberta has shown the cost curve in Alberta has been positively impacted by government's investment in PCNs and primary care.
Primary Care Networks make it easy to find family doctors accepting new patients.
Over 900 Primary Care Networks family doctors are accepting new patients. Albertans looking for a family physician can visit
www.pcnpmo.ca/findadoctor to find one near them. PCNs created this service because access to the same family doctor builds a relationship for a healthy future. Research confirms that patients who regularly visit a family doctor are healthier and live longer.
Alberta spends more on average than the other provinces for health care delivery.
Evidence shows increased spending in primary care yields system level savings, less hospital utilization and better health outcomes for patients. Health care costs are driven by the common chronic diseases (e.g., diabetes, hypertension, depression) that are best managed in primary care every day. One of the most effective ways of reducing health care costs and utilization is to have and access a family doctor. Primary Care Networks improve access to family doctors.
Primary Care Networks are at the heart of health care in Alberta.
There are 42 Primary Care Networks (PCNs) in Alberta providing care to over 3.5 million Albertans. Over 3,700 family physicians and 1,000 allied health professionals work in PCNs. 80% of the overall PCN staff budget is spent on allied health professionals such as nurses, dietitians, pharmacists, social workers, and mental health professionals. The other 20% is spent on administrative roles that support PCNs’ operations. PCNs build health teams to help Albertans get the right care, at the right time, by the right team member.