Research strongly suggests that enhancing community patient care services, with a local focus, leads to better patient outcomes and health system savings. Family Practice Networks (FPNs) provide mechanisms to enable community-based family physicians at the sub-regional or regional levels to identify and address common health care goals/gaps in local communities to improve population health outcomes. This may be in collaboration with their Regional Health Authorities, community-based organizations or municipalities. The structure also provides mechanisms for physicians to pursue opportunities to enhance recruitment and retention efforts in their local areas.
Each Family Practice Network is a not-for-profit corporation 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 structure to address practice issues in your local area and ultimately aid in recruitment and retention. Benefits can include:
Membership is voluntary and free.
What each Family Practice Network focuses on depends on the needs and interests of the local physicians in that Family Practice Network.
As one of three core Family Practice Renewal Program initiatives, Family Practice Networks provide formalized structures and tools to enable community-based family physicians, in collaboration with their regional health services, to identify and address common health care goals/gaps in local communities, and in so doing, ultimately contribute to population health outcomes.
The goals of a Family Practice Network are ultimately about contributing to an integrated system of care. The overarching intent is to build capacity in a system focused on the patient.
Family Practice Networks contribute to this effort through the following goals:
The following are examples of network-based program successes from our province:
Based on chronic disease data collected by Newfoundland & Labrador Centre for Health Information (NLCHI), the Deloitte Report, and discussions amongst local Family Physicians, patient access to community physiotherapy was identified as a Collaborative Services Committee (CSC) priority. Family physicians noted the presentation of back pain was common within their clinics with no resources to share with their patients or access to community physiotherapy. Through partnership between the FPN and Regional Health Authority (RHA), The Back2Fitness! program was developed to help address this need.
FPNs and RHAs have also been discussing the opportunities to build in capacity for community FFS clinics to receive better access to dedicated allied health resources (RHA resources). The intention is to bring together allied health professionals and family physicians within the community to act as a Health Home Model of Team-based Care for attached patients, where community family physician can send their patient referrals directly to dedicated allied health resources.
There are several working groups and initiatives with each FPN – some regional and others provincial. The Less Paperwork, Locum Group, and Care of Older Adult initiatives are just three examples of many. To get involved or learn more, please reach out to your FPN Executive Director.
Less Paperwork – In response to the increasing frustration and ever-growing volume of paperwork within physician’s clinics, the Less Paperwork working group supports the development of tools such as example response letters (i.e., sick days), and tips and tricks such as special authorization form guidelines.
Locum Group – FPNs have helped support locum planning within regions of NL including the creation of self-managed email group, a networking engagement session with locums in the region, and the creation of orientation handbooks to help encourage locum coverage and address barriers to practice.
Care of Older Adult (COA) – The FPN has supported and funded a two year family practice resident to complete a Certificate of Advanced Competence in Family Medicine in Care of the Elderly from the CFCP to help support a Care of the Older Adult Program (including a Home Dementia Program).
FPNs and RHAs across the province have been working together to define partnership and collaboration for the development of interprofessional teams. Through this work, facilitating care transitions in primary care has become a focus to help integrate primary care with the greater health system and health-minded organizations.
FPNs and RHAs are working together to define what access means (i.e., wait times, access to specialties, etc.) and how to better align services with population health needs. The CSCs are working on ways to collaborate with family physicians and Medical consultants, to identify what is an appropriate, complete referral and what is not. As well, FPNs are developing a filtering process for referrals, considering ways to education FPs through continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities, sharing best practices (EMR tips, clinic processes, etc.) and opening lines of communications between FPs and consultants.
FPNs across the province have been working to improve patient access by focusing on inclusive approaches to recruiting, welcoming, and retaining family physicians through providing social, supportive mentorship and wellness activities.
The FPNs, RHAs, and other community partners have been working together to identify and agree on specific collaborative roles and actions with the goal to reduce family physician barriers and ensure appropriate mechanisms are leveraged to increase family physician satisfaction and wellness across our communities.
FPNs have been reaching out to local municipalities to create mechanisms for open communication and work collaboratively to help support the family physicians within their communities. FPNs have been advocates in ensuring Family Medicine is being represented at all relevant tables to highlight and support the voice of family physicians.
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.
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 on common needs. In addition, salaried physicians can take advantage of the Practice Improvement Program offerings.
The Family Practice Network may have physicians or link with physicians who provide in-patient care, however, hospital privileges will not be a requirement.
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.