As doctors around the province move toward evolving their practices into Patient Medical Homes (PMH), many divisions are fielding questions from members about how this work will unfold, what these changes mean, and, ultimately, what it will be like to work within a Primary Care Network (PCN).
After hearing speakers from Alberta talk about PMH/PCN at the 2018 GPSC Spring Summit, physician leads in Abbotsford wanted to know more. The division decided to bring Dr Brad Bahler—a speaker from the Summit—to present at a local session.
Shortly after the Abbotsford division began planning the session, they realized that other divisions in the Fraser region were interested in learning more about PMH/PCN as well. Partnering with the Langley division, Abbotsford turned the session into a large multi-division education event that marked the first opportunity for physicians in the region to learn about the experience of shifting to PCNs from other provinces’ perspectives, and the first time Fraser divisions had held a multi-division event related to a topic other than billing.
In addition to inviting Dr Bahler, the Fraser divisions took a technological risk—engaging Dr Rick Glazier from Ontario to speak to his PCN experience. He participated as a keynote, including Q&A and panel sessions using virtual meeting technology.
The conference featured an opportunity for Fraser region GPs to mine presenters’ knowledge about the process of creating PCNs and what it’s like to work within one. Alberta and Ontario had learned (sometimes the hard way) about the challenges of implementing the PCNs and the impact they have seen to patient care outcomes. Learnings included:
- Maintaining relationships is key in leadership in creating a PCN – take time and space to meet and discuss the vision. Relationships can help partners pull through hard times.
- Health Authority relationships are key – it’s best to define role clarity early, and include the health authority in as many conversations as possible so they can understand what’s working and what’s not.
- Maintain open and candid conversations with the Ministry of Health – this transparency will form a good foundation for PCN work. This requires everyone to be on the same page of what is the goal and pulling in the same direction with the same priorities.
- Conflict between partners can be overcome by understanding each other’s environments and perspective, using outside facilitation when needed including a formal process for disputes.
- As the system shifts, keep patients at the centre by engaging them early in the process, and keeping them involved throughout.
Feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive, with nearly all participants agreeing that the conference increased their understanding of what it’s like to work in a PCN. Key takeaways identified by participants included:
- There is a need for a collective voice in the planning process.
- No “ideal” model exists.
- Teamwork and clearly defined roles are key.
- It is important to recognize the value of networking.
- Partners need to be open to change.