Research strongly suggests that enhancing community patient care services, with a local focus, should lead to better patient outcomes and health system savings. As one of three core program initiatives, Family Practice Networks provide mechanisms to enable community-based family physicians at the sub-regional or regional levels, in collaboration with their Regional Health Authorities, to identify and address common health care goals/gaps in local communities, and in so doing, ultimately contribute to population health outcomes. The structure also provides mechanisms for physicians to pursue opportunities to enhance recruitment and retention efforts in their local areas.
Each Family Practice Network, which is a not-for-profit corporation constituted by the physicians, participates in a Collaborative Services Committee with the relevant Regional Health Authorities, whose mandate is to identify and respond to primary health care needs of the community. Family Practice Networks are organizing and promoting the participation of physicians in their region in activities that ultimately improve the delivery of primary health care services.
A Family Practice Network provides you with a supported mechanism to address physician and practice issues in your local area and ultimately aid in recruitment and retention. Benefits can include facilitating use of shared resources to meet local patient population needs (e.g. frail elderly, adolescent mental health, group appointments); leveraging family physician colleague expertise; improved communication and coordination with regional health authorities; accessing and linking to interdisciplinary teams; working together to purchase supplies for a group of clinics; coordinating locums for a grouping of physicians; coordinating common education needs; working to streamline communication processes with other aspects of the health system; and taking part in structured rotations to increase patient access in your local area, etc. What each Family Practice Network focuses on depends on the needs and interests of the local physicians in that Family Practice Network.
Each Family Practice Network is unique, developed by local family doctors. While the provincial program provides standard structures and general direction, the local approach allows, and encourages, the Family Practice Networks to focus on the needs of its own physicians and patients.
Family Practice Network development requires time from physicians interested in taking a lead role. However, Family Practice Renewal Program staff provide direct and on-the-ground training and support. The time requirement depends on your local physician group and how you decide to move this forward. You may decide to have a planning meeting every month, bi-weekly, weekly. It will depends on what is realistic and what works for your group. Physicians will receive honoraria for Family Practice Network planning time to cover time away from their practices, if necessary.