Alberta Medical Association

Alberta Medical Association
Alberta Health

Alberta Health

September 27, 2013 18:10 ET

Government, Physicians Working Together to Improve Health System Efficiency and Strengthen Primary Care

EDMONTON, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Sept. 27, 2013) - Alberta Health and the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) are collaborating on several initiatives to find efficiencies within the health system and strengthen primary care.

"Our new agreement with the AMA is resulting in many opportunities to build a stronger health system. By working together to find ways to identify system efficiencies, we'll ensure to improve quality and ensure sustainability of the health system. And as we build on the successes of Primary Care Networks (PCNs), Albertans will have greater access to the health services they need."

Fred Horne, Minister of Health

"I think that the patients of Alberta can be happy that we are moving to implement this agreement between physicians and government. We have some goals that can really make a difference for patients, with more efficient care that gives them a chance to have a voice and make good decisions. I'm also excited about building on the strong foundation of our outstanding Primary Care Networks so every Albertan has a home in the health care system.

Dr. Michael Giuffre, President, Alberta Medical Association

As part of the new seven year agreement with physicians, Alberta Health and the AMA have agreed to work together to find efficiencies and optimize value for money within the health system.

One initiative will be to focus on appropriateness of care and to initiate an Alberta 'Choosing Wisely program. "Choosing Wisely" is a well-regarded program which originated in the United States and is now being adapted in Canada. The program involves a provider-led identification of tests and treatments that physicians and patients should question before initiating, where there is potential for overuse, waste or even harm to patients.

Alberta is in a good position to support uptake and implementation of the Choosing Wisely Program recommendations through existing AMA quality programs [such as the Toward Optimized Practice (TOP) Program and the Physician Learning Program (PLP)] and with strategic clinical networks (SCNs).

Some early areas for focus will target the appropriate use of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computerized tomography) scans.

In the area of primary care Alberta will continue to strengthen the Primary Care Network program.

Earlier this year the Minister of Health had requested the Primary Care Alliance of the Alberta Medical Association to identify opportunities to build on the successes of the PCN program and identify improvements. There will be ongoing work on the evolution of the PCN program but some immediate actions which have been identified by primary care leaders as priorities are to:

  • Inform Albertans who are part of a PCN directly what services are available, including locations and times of after-hour clinics.
  • Accelerate efforts with PCNs to provide a formal home in the health system for Albertans.
  • Enhance access for Albertans through increased availability of same-day or next day appointments and better access to after-hours care.
  • Improve coordination between primary care and social services for those patients that need it.

Contact Information