New family doctor report outlines tangible steps needed now, and why
TORONTO, Jan. 26 /CNW/ - A new report released today by the Ontario
College of Family Physicians (OCFP) urgently calls for more emphasis to
be put on family medicine and the primary care sector in order to
provide Ontarians with what they need and want when it comes to their
healthcare, and to prevent them from overwhelming Ontario's hospitals
and emergency departments by 2020.
The report, called "Vision 2020: Raising the Bar in Family Medicine and Ontario's Primary
Care Sector" is supported by a survey conducted by Harris-Decima for the Ontario
College of Family Physicians. The survey demonstrates that:
Eighty-five per cent of Ontarians expect the healthcare system will
ensure they and their family members have a family doctor. Currently,
915,000 Ontarians do not have a family doctor, causing a higher
reliance on local hospital emergency room departments or walk-in
clinics for care.
Ninety-one per cent of those who expect to have a family doctor want
their family doctor to provide the majority of the care they and their
family need, which includes providing access to other healthcare
professionals. For example:
Seventy-six per cent expect access to nurses
Sixty- eight per cent expect access to nurse practitioners
Fifty-five per cent expect access to physician assistants
Forty-three per cent expect access to dietitians
Forty per cent expect access to pharmacists
Forty per cent expect specialists to practice with their family doctor
Thirty -three per cent expect access to social workers
Thirty-three per cent expect access to mental health workers.
By 2012, 3.2 million Ontarians will be enrolled in the 200 family health
teams and other models of primary care funded by the Ontario government
that provide comprehensive multi-disciplinary care. However, this will
still leave close to 10 million Ontarians (such as mothers, babies,
young children, adolescents, and people with serious conditions such as
mental illnesses, addictions and other chronic disorders) without
access to the higher level of preventive care and treatment that is
provided in team-based practices.
"We've made some good progress over the past 10 years by offering family
health teams to some Ontarians, but the time has come to kick these
initiatives into high gear," says Dr. Anne DuVall, president of the
Ontario College of Family Physicians. "The province needs to continue
to invest in the primary care sector until every person in the province
is rostered with a family physician that is supported by an
According to the Commonwealth Fund report, Canada ranks six out of seven
developed countries when it comes to providing a strong primary care
system.i This is a wakeup call for all of us.
"As a province and a country with extraordinarily well-trained family
physicians, we should be leading the pack when it comes to preventing
illnesses and caring for patients in our communities," adds Jan
Kasperski, chief executive officer of the OCFP.
The survey also showed that 30 per cent of Ontario's population over the
age of 18 (2.8 million Ontarians) suffers from a chronic illness, with
13 per cent saying they suffer from two or more.
"One of the greatest health challenges facing Ontario in the 21st century is the need to develop effective approaches to prevent chronic
and other illnesses in the first place, and to address the increasing
number of people developing and living with these conditions," say Dr.
Duvall. "If we do not make the right investments in the primary care
sector now, hospitals will crash under the growing weight of chronic
and other diseases."
For example, chronic diseases are long-term illnesses. They develop
slowly, are typically incurable, often get worse over time and patients
require ongoing care and support from a family physician and a
multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals to manage and
prevent them. Some of the most common chronic illnesses in Canada are
heart disease, diabetes, depression, certain cancers and chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease.
Not only are we seeing these illnesses in our growing elderly
population, we are seeing children with type 2 diabetes and strokes,
something that was unheard of a few years ago. In fact, due to societal
changes, it is predicted that this will be first generation of children
who are not expected to outlive their parents.ii
"While concern is being expressed by the fact that people with chronic
illnesses are filling up doctors' waiting rooms, lining up in hospital
emergency departments and occupying hospital beds that are needed for
acute care patients, we need a system in place to keep them out of the
most expensive parts of the system," says Jan Kasperski. "It's time to
raise the bar in our primary care system so that by 2020 chronic
diseases don't consume hospital resources at an alarming rate, in a way
that is not economically sustainable and in a manner that is not in the
best interest of Ontarians."
The OCFP's Vision for 2020
"Vision 2020: Raising the Bar in Family Medicine and Ontario's Primary
Care Sector" demonstrates how enhancing the primary care sector is the antidote that
is needed. Research shows over and over again that healthcare systems
anchored in family medicine and the primary care system have the best
patient outcomes at the least cost.
Some of the recommendations outlined in the OCFP's "Vision 2020: Raising the Bar in Family Medicine and Ontario's Primary
Care Sector" include:
Every person in Ontario has a family doctor. Currently, 10 per cent of adult Ontarians, or 915,000, do not have a
family doctor. This can lead to fragmented healthcare that is more
costly to the system and less effective for patients.
Every person in Ontario has access to a family doctor that works with
other healthcare professionals (such as in a family health team). Only a fraction of the people in the province has access to doctors who
work in team-based practice. All Ontarians should be receiving this
multi-disciplinary level of primary care and support. This will give
them access to a comprehensive basket of healthcare services, enabling
them to effectively manage all of their healthcare needs.
Every person in Ontario has an electronic health record. This will allow healthcare professionals to provide better care by
having the information they need at their fingertips, such as a
patient's medical history, test results, current medications and more.
Electronic medical records have been shown to improve the quality of
care and save healthcare costs. In fact, 87 per cent of adult Ontarians
expect their healthcare records to be electronic and 93 per cent expect
their records to be easily accessible by their family doctors and other
"Vision 2020: Raising the Bar in Family Medicine and Ontario's Primary
Care Sector" was developed by the Ontario College of Family Physicians in
consultation with representatives from the Ontario Hospital
Association, the Ontario Medical Association, the Association of
Community Care Access Centres, the Southeast Local Health Integrated
Network, and others. "Vision 2020: Raising the Bar in Family Medicine and Ontario's Primary
Care Sector" is available online at www.ocfp.on.ca
About the OCFP
The Ontario College of Family Physicians is a provincial chapter of the
College of Family Physicians of Canada and is a voluntary,
not-for-profit association that promotes family medicine in Ontario
through leadership, education and advocacy. The OCFP represents close
to 9,950 family physicians providing care for remote, rural, suburban,
urban and inner-city populations in Ontario. At the heart of the
organization is the building and maintenance of high standards of
practice and education and the continuous improvement of access to
quality family practice services.
Harris / Decima Survey Methodology
Between August 17 and August 24, 2010, Harris / Decima conducted a
provincial telephone survey of 603 Ontarians over the age of 18 years.
Gender, age, employment status, language, urban versus rural, income
level, education, marital status and household size were considered in
conducting the poll. Harris / Decima conducted the survey with a
confidence level of +/- 4.0 per cent, 19 times out of 20 (total
i Calculated by The Commonwealth Fund based on 2007 International Health
Policy Survey; 2008 International Health Policy Survey of Sicker
Adults; 2009 International Health Policy Survey of Primary Care
Physicians; Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health
System National Scorecard; and Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development, OECD Health Data, 2009 (Paris: OECD, Nov. 2009)
ii Ontario Medical Association, An Ounce of Prevention or a Ton of Trouble; Is there an Epidemic of
Childhood Obesity, 2005 Position Paper. Available online at: https://www.oma.org/Resources/Documents/2005EpidemicofObesityinChildren.pdf
SOURCE Ontario College of Family Physicians
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