Primary Care Networks
Primary Care Networks (PCN) are groups of family doctors who work with Alberta Health Services and other health professionals to coordinate the delivery of primary care services for their patients. A Primary Care Network is a network of doctors and other health providers such as nurses, dietitians and pharmacists working together to provide primary health care to patients.
A Primary Care Network can be comprised of one clinic with many physicians and support staff, or several doctors in several clinics in a geographic area. The Alberta government provides supplementary funding to hire other health professionals to help deliver enhanced services to their patients. Each network has the flexibility to develop programs and to provide services in a way that works locally to meet the specific needs of patients.
The Primary Care Initiative was established in 2003 by the Alberta government, the Alberta Medical Association and Alberta’s Regional Health Authorities (now Alberta Health Services) to improve access to family physicians and other frontline health care providers in Alberta. The Primary Care Initiative developed Primary Care Networks.
- Alberta has 42 Primary Care Networks with approximately 3,800 physicians and the full-time-equivalent of 1000 other health care providers.
- Primary Care Networks provide services to close to 3.5 million Albertans.
Primary Care Networks work to achieve 5 goals:
- Increasing the proportion of Albertans with ready access to primary care
- Managing access to appropriate round-the-clock primary care services
- Increasing the emphasis on health promotion, disease and injury prevention, and care of patients with complex problems or chronic disease
- Improving the co-ordination of primary care with hospital, long-term and specialty care, and
- Facilitating the greater use of multi-disciplinary teams in primary health care
Primary Care Networks are: reducing the use of emergency rooms and wait times through extended and after-hours service; providing comprehensive patient education; and optimizing the skills of clinical care teams through outreach programs.
Alberta’s 5-Year Health Action Plan calls for expanded access to primary health care teams. The plan also commits to the further fine-tuning of Primary Care Networks as well as the introduction of other ways of delivering primary care to help ensure primary health care programs and services are available to Albertans.