B.C. hopes to link family doctors to patients in 4 weeks thanks to system upgrades

B.C.’s Ministry of Health says it is making system upgrades to its primary care strategy which it says will match patients with primary care practitioners in 4 weeks.

In an announcement Thursday, the ministry explained that as of April 17, it will be digitally matching primary care providers with British Columbians who are looking for physicians or nurse practitioners and have registered through Health Connect.

The province says almost 310,000 people have registered through HealthLinkBC and almost 1,600 clinics have uploaded their information into the provider registry. This means that to date, almost 68,000 people have been “attached or close to being attached” to a primary care provider.

“Our relationship with family doctors in the past was all about billing, and not about patients. This is a significant, jointly developed system to help patients attach more easily,” Health Minister Adrian Dix explained Thursday.

The ministry explains it has also expanded its team of attachment coordinators to 70 staff, which it hopes will streamline and speed up attachment to four weeks.

“They’re going to be able to facilitate this much more quickly through this digital model,” Dix said, adding that previously, it was done over the phone, one by one. “This way, they have developed these full registries and now a new system to bring people together will make their jobs way more efficient and easier.”

The province says that patients who have registered with Health Connect are now able to change their health status on the fly, and update changes to their health status while waiting for attachment to a doctor or practitioner, which the ministry says will help to determine the complexity of care needed.

“The goal is to attach people in a way that works for people, individuals. And that’s what the system is set up to do. So, it maintains patient choice and the choice of health professionals,” Dix added.

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