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Collaborative care could change your life

Primary health care is where people go for health-care or wellness advice, treatment of a health issue or injury, and diagnosis and management of health conditions. Primary care helps keep people healthy and out of hospitals, emergency rooms and long-term care.

Nova Scotians should be able to access primary care, which includes a family doctor, when they need it. But this is not the case in our province today. In fact, close to 30,000 Nova Scotians don’t have access to a family physician.

Doctors in Nova Scotia have developed a list of 11 recommendations to improve primary care and access to family doctors. One of those recommendations is to create more collaborative care teams.

Collaborative care teams

Collaborative care is when multiple providers from different health-care professions provide comprehensive services to a patient population. Teams may involve nurses, doctors and other health-care providers, depending on the needs of the patient community.

When other clinicians provide routine medical care, such as flu shots and Pap tests, family doctors have more time to treat patients with more complex issues. That means more patients will be able to get the care they deserve.

New physicians are trained to work in a collaborative care model, so most of them want to practise in that environment. Some physicians have been working in a collaborative model for years. (Here’s just one example.)

Barriers to team-based care

One of the greatest barriers to moving to collaborative practice is payment – because the current physician payment model doesn’t reflect the realities of collaborative practice. Doctors recommend a blended payment model – one that will allow physicians to spend more time with patients and that supports collaboration with other health-care providers. It’s also critical that the implementation of this model is flexible – so it meets the unique needs of patients and communities.

Doctors also believe that adopting a fully integrated e-health system will help them make better use of technology. It will also further enable non-face-to-face care – such as telephone consultations – which is more convenient for patients and allows doctors to see more urgent cases on a same-day or next-day basis.

Physicians can help make it happen

Meaningful physician engagement is key to successfully changing the health-care system. Studies have shown that organizations that engage physicians in health system design are most likely to experience improved outcomes.

Nova Scotia’s doctors want to work with our partners in the health-care system to improve care for our patients, and we believe our ideas can help us take steps in that direction. If we can work together, we can help ensure that Nova Scotians get the care they need.

Act now

You have the power to make health care part of the election discussion. Talk to candidates about your health-care concerns – when they knock on your door, through social media or when you meet them at public debates.