A GP for Me
- Enabling patients who want a family doctor to find one.
- Increasing the capacity of the primary health care system.
- Confirming and strengthening the continuous doctor-patient relationship, which includes providing better support for the needs of vulnerable patients.
The Comox Valley Division took an active role in the provincial A GP for Me initiative. We know that when patients see the same health care providers over the long term, they have improved outcomes and a more efficient care journey, while doctors save time and help keep system costs down.
Comox Valley’s A GP for Me program consisted of six strategies some of which have continued to exist:
- Establishing a GP Clinic at Comox Valley Nursing Centre – The Health Connections Clinic (HCC)
We have created a team-based model of care for unattached patients with complex needs by adding GP services to those already offered at the Comox Valley Nursing Centre. By referral, patients are provided with a consistent primary care team, which offers them the benefits of longitudinal care and prepares them for transition to a community GP if appropriate.
Post Initiative: The HCC has continued to expand it's primary care service and programs, which include an Opioid Agonist Therapy clinic.
- Increasing Mental Health and Substance Use Support for GP Offices
In partnership with Island Health, we are providing a clinician to offer in-office support for mild to moderate mental health or substance use patients at four area clinics. To increase connection in our community and improve care capacity, we also held a mental health integration event which brought together local doctors, agencies and partners who provide mental health and substance use support to share their knowledge and information on how to help patients access services in the Comox Valley. As well, the Division is supporting interested doctors in developing mental health and substance use treatment expertise through specialized education.
Post Initiative: This service has continued to expend whereby an Island Health Clinician is available in over 7 family practices clinics in the Comox Valley providing mental health support to their patients.
- Creating a Resource to Connect Patients with Community Services
The Community Navigator role is now available to physicians to support them in helping patients who have social/community resource needs. The Community Navigator can suggest resources to provide to patients, or can talk or meet with patients to connect them to community resources. By creating a dedicated source of information on all community resources, doctors can refer patients to one place and know they will be connected with all social and community supports.
Post Initiative: Funding for this service came to an end in 2018. In 2020, the Division made available Pathways Community Services - a comprehensive listing of local, regional, and provincial community services. The Division has partnered with several community agencies to provide this service which can be found here: https://pathwaysbc.ca/comox-valley.
- Building a Centralized Referral Mechanism (CRM)
Matching doctors with patients who need one is central to A GP for Me. We are building a mechanism to help make that connection. A dedicated individual is building a list of GPs who are taking patients and any key areas of expertise they have. The referrals for matching will focus on the most vulnerable in our community based on referrals from community agencies, the emergency department, as well as walk-in clinic and DOD doctors.
Post Initiative: The CRM has continued to be available for complex needs residents in finding a family doctor. See HERE for more information including the referral process.
- Recruiting and Retaining Family Doctors
The Division has hired a Recruitment Coordinator who is actively working locally and provincially to attract new locums and permanent family doctors to the Comox Valley and to support their comfortable integration into our community. As well, we are exploring options to enable those already practicing here to continue to treat patients in ways that work for them at every stage of their careers.
Post Initiative: The Recruitment Coordinator role continues to exist and has expanded to include support for UBC Strathcona Site Family Practice Residents and collaboration with other Vancouver Island Divisions in recruiting and retaining family doctors.
- Enhancing Office Efficiency
By supporting doctors in optimizing the way their practices run, we are helping them achieve greater work-life balance and increase patient capacity. Part of our work in this area involves a partnership with the Practice Support Program to provide practice coaching and increase the number of clinics providing same-day access. We are also establishing a Network of Excellence for medical office managers, assistants, and representatives from family physician and specialist offices, midwifery clinics and St. Joseph’s General Hospital to improve communication and enhance collaboration.
Post Initiative: The Division continues to work closely with family practice offices and their MOA and has supported meetings and tools for collaboration.