Thousands of B.C. patients to be connected to family doctors with new online tools

Hundreds of thousands of British Columbians are expected to be connected with family doctors through a new combined registry, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said in an update Thursday.

According to the province, for the first time in B.C., the government has a provincial outlook on patients looking for a primary care provider and how many service providers can take on new clients.

“We are doing the work required to transform our primary care system. We are talking about spaces for patients in the hundreds of thousands because of the hard work we’ve done,” Dix said.

“We’ve made a commitment to better connect people with primary care providers and we are following through on that commitment.”

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Click to play video: 'The number of family doctors in B.C. is growing'

The number of family doctors in B.C. is growing

Three online registries are being used to streamline connecting patients with family doctors, built with Doctors of BC as well as Nurse and Nurse Practitioners of BC.

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“In less than a year, we have worked with the Ministry of Health to significantly increase the number of family physicians, and we are starting to attach patients to family physicians in greater numbers,” Dr. Ahmer Karimuddin, Doctors of BC’s president, said.

“Enhancements to the system will help us to be more streamlined and efficient so that patients are attached more quickly, while at the same time reducing administrative burden for physicians.”

According to the Health Connect Registry, an online portal people can register with to find a doctor, more than 310,000 people are registered and seeking a family doctor through the registry.

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The province said 67,000 of those registered are “attached or close to being attached” to a doctor.

Through the Panel Registry made for practitioners, family physicians and nurses can provide up-to-date information regarding their availability.

Through the practitioner registry, around 170,000 new patients can be linked to 800 family doctors and nurses under current capacity.

The final registry, the Clinic and Provider Registry, allows the province to “build a comprehensive picture” of primary care clinics and providers working in every community across the province.

Starting this month, Dix announced the three registries will be linked together to further speed up attachment, which is replacing a “largely manual process.”

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He said through this new combined registry, he expects between 300,000 and 400,000 British Columbians will be connected with a family doctor.

There are currently between 800,000 and 900,000 British Columbians without doctors.

Dix said since 2018-19, more than 410,000 people have been attached to family doctors through the government’s primary care strategy.

“(Having a family doctor) is important for everyone, such as me, who is living with a chronic disease and everybody else as well,” Dix said.

Through the strategy, more than 4,000 family physicians are now registered with the new payment model and 700 additional family physicians are working in primary care.

Click to play video: 'Family doctors shifting from primary to specialty care'

Family doctors shifting from primary to specialty care

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