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What is a Family Practice Network?

A Family Practice Network, or FPN, provides a mechanism through which a physician group can address common practice and patient needs, have a collective voice on issues facing family practice, and address local population health needs, in coordination with the Regional Health Authority (RHA). The FPN structure is a physician-led, non-profit organization.

What will FPNs be doing?

  • Within the overall goals of the program, FPNs will be able to decide their priorities and which initiatives will best suit their Network and patient population.
  • Examples of priority areas currently being worked on:
    • Improving working relationships amongst family physicians, and between family physicians and other providers
    • Team-based approaches to care & sharing of resources
    • Cross-referral to other family physicians with different skill sets
    • Improving physician recruitment and retention, as well as locum coverage
    • Access to, and knowledge of, community resources
    • Better communication and collaboration with the Regional Health Authorities
    • A collective voice in decisions involving community family practice
  • We will be sharing more about the plans of FPNs as we work through the development process.

How does the funding work?

  • Funding will be provided in the form of an annual budget allocation, based on acceptance of a proposal from the FPN by the Management Committee (with support provided by program staff).
  • Funding will be used for administrative expenses such as the hiring of a Manager to run the FPN, and for administrative and governance services provided by the physicians who take on a leadership role.
  • Annual funding will be based on physician membership numbers, from $125,000 (for 20 physician members) to a maximum of $275,000 for 70+ physicians.

Who can be members of an FPN?

  • Membership in FPNs will be categorized into voting and non-voting.
  • Voting members will be practicing General Practitioners (GPs) who deliver the majority of their services in the geographic area (this includes locums).
  • A non-voting member can be a Medical Resident holding a full or educational license, or can be a retired GP.
  • The By-laws for the FPN outline the specific membership classes and requirements.

Can salaried family physicians participate in the program?

Yes, salaried family physicians can participate within local Family Practice Networks, if identified and in development in your area, and we do encourage participation to facilitate increased collaboration with your physician colleagues and other providers. In addition, salaried physicians can take advantage of the Practice Improvement Program offerings.

Do physicians have to have hospital privileges to be in a Family Practice Network?

The Family Practice Network may have physicians or link with physicians who provide in-patient care. However, hospital privileges will not be a requirement.

Will physicians be paid for their time to lead the FPN?

  • Honoraria will be paid to physician leaders for FPN administration and governance services, and program development and implementation functions.
  • Payment Method: A provincially standardized hourly honoraria rate of $114 per hour to a maximum of $800 per day, with this including preparation time, travel, and meeting attendance.

Have family physicians been consulted?

  • As part of our program consultation process, we’ve talked with close to 200 family physicians over the past year.
  • Through a combination of group sessions and interviews, you gave us your ideas and priorities for FPNs in NL.
  • You told us you are challenged in meeting increased demand for patient care services, both in relation to patient volume as well of complexity of care. You talked specifically about:
    • Supporting patients with mental health issues and chronic diseases
    • Care of older adults, especially the frail elderly
    • The worsening problem of chronic opioid use
    • Meeting patient access needs
    • Lack of supports for team-based approaches to care
    • Managing administrative responsibilities/workload
    • Lack of communication with your Regional Health Authorities (RHAs)
    • Lack of consultation with family physicians in decisions that affect community family practice

You see FPNs as providing opportunities for:

    • Improved working relationships amongst family physicians, and between family physicians and other providers
    • Team-based approaches to care & sharing of resources
    • Cross-referral to other family physicians with different skill sets
    • Improving physician recruitment and retention, as well as locum coverage
    • Access to, and knowledge of, community resources
    • Better communication and collaboration with the Regional Health Authorities
    • A collective voice in decisions involving community family practice

Why should I join an FPN? What will it do for me?

  • An FPN will provide you with a supported mechanism to address physician and practice issues in your local area and ultimately aid in recruitment and retention.
  • Benefits could 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 (RHAs); 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 you focus on will depend on the needs and interests of the local physicians in your FPN.

This sounds like a lot of work. Where will we get the time to devote to this?

Family Practice Network development will require time from physicians interested in taking a lead role. However, Family Practice Renewal Program staff will provide you with 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 depend on what is realistic and what works for your group.