Primary health care

Primary health care is the first place people go for:
  • health care or wellness advice and programs
  • treatment of a health issue or injury, or
  • to diagnose and manage a health condition.

Primary health care includes all the services in your community that support the day-to-day health needs of you and your family through every stage of life.

  • Those services may include a visit to your family doctor, a consultation from a nurse practitioner, advice from a pharmacist or an appointment with a dietitian or therapist. Primary health care includes a focus on wellness, and connecting people with social supports that influence their health status, such as housing or parental support.

Primary health care draws on the expertise of many different providers working together. It recognizes that our health, wellness and quality of life are influenced by our economic, cultural and physical situations, and our spiritual beliefs.

  • Regardless of where it happens, primary health care is the key to helping Albertans to be healthy.

Improving Albertans’ access to team-based primary health care is a priority for Alberta Health. It is one of the ways we’re building a health and health-care system that provides the right care, in the right place, at the right time, by the right health professionals, with the right information.

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman recently outlined Alberta’s goal for more community-based care delivered closer to home, where health care is planned and structured around people and their community.

Primary Care Network governance framework

Primary Care Network's member physicians recently voted overwhelmingly to ratify the Primary Care Network governance framework.

Primary health care in Alberta

Alberta has several team-based approaches to primary health care, including:

  • Primary Care Networks (PCNs) – in operation since 2003, PCNs are physician-led multi-disciplinary teams. Alberta has 42 PCNs with approximately 3,800 physicians and the full-time-equivalent of 1,000 other health-care providers. The networks provide primary health-care services to close to 3.6 million Albertans.
  • Family Care Clinics (FCCs) – introduced in early 2012, FCCs provide direct access to a team of health professionals, and to other community and support services.
  • Community Health Centres – Community Health Centres are front-line healthcare and social support centres that integrate team-based care with health promotion, social services, and community programs that address social barriers to health.

Improving Alberta’s primary health-care system

A lot of work has been done to improve primary health-care delivery in Alberta since the Primary Health Care Strategy was released in 2014.

The strategy was originally built on three strategic directions, but today primary health care in Alberta is being improved through 5 key strategic directions:

  1. Bring about cultural change.
  2. Enhance the delivery of care.
  3. Establish building blocks for change.
  4. Design health services on population health and cultural needs.
  5. Increase value and return on public investment.

More information