Rural and remote communities have a small number of doctors who provide a full spectrum of health care services, including primary care and acute services, which may include working from outreach clinics and supporting patients by telehealth. The Division is working to foster integrated models of health services that ensure timely access to quality and longitudinal care.
One solution that is working for many BC communities is providing patients with a rural primary care home rather than a single doctor responsible for their care. With this approach, the patient visits the same doctors’ office but may be seen by any of the doctors or other health professionals on staff. The patient can be seen promptly by a doctor who has access to their medical records and who will get to know them over time. The Division is working collaboratively with health authorities and other medical professionals to explore how this and other innovative care models can enhance rural medicine.
Rural and Remote's strategies for enhancing the delivery of primary care are informed and supported by the BC Ministry of Health's Policy Papers.
Primary and Community Care in BC: A Strategic Policy Framework
Rural Health Services in BC: A Policy Framework to Provide a System of Quality Care
A GP for Me
A GP for Me was a province-wide initiative funded jointly by the Government of BC and Doctors of BC. The program has been launched across the province, with important work being done at the community level by local Divisions of Family Practice. The goals of the initiative are:
- Enable everyone who wants a family doctor to find one.
- Increase the capacity of the primary health care system.
- Confirm and strengthen the continuous doctor-patient relationship, including better support for the needs of vulnerable patients.
The Rural and Remote Division is a strong supporter of A GP for Me and believes that primary care homes will be instrumental in achieving this goal in rural communities.
The assessment and planning phase of A GP for Me has been an excellent opportunity for the Division and its Chapters to build organizational capacity and strengthen partnerships with other primary care organizations at various levels. During this phase, we were able to engage our members, partners, community agencies, and community residents (patients and families), as well as each of the Health Authorities, including First Nations Health Authority, in gaining a better understanding of the primary care needs of our communities.
The Rural and Remote Division is now well into the implementation phase of A GP for Me. Each of the five Chapters participating in the implementation phase has realized the strategies developed during the assessment and planning phase. Read more about these community-specific initiatives in the first issue of our Newsletter.
Strengthening rural and remote models of care continues to be a priority for our division. Enhancing capacity of the primary care team through stronger linkages with existing community service providers and building new models of care were seen as the necessary foundational work to make sustainable improvements.