Fixing Nova Scotia’s Primary Health Care Problem: Physicians’ Recommendations to Improve Primary Care in Nova Scotia

Fixing Nova Scotia’s Primary Health Care Problem: Physicians’ Recommendations to Improve Primary Care in Nova Scotia

Primary health care is the backbone of Nova Scotia’s health-care system. It is the first place people go for health-care or wellness advice and programs, treatment of a health issue or injury, and diagnosis and management of a health condition. Primary care also keeps people healthy and out of hospitals, emergency rooms and long-term care. 

Every Nova Scotian should be able to access a primary health-care team that includes a family physician. Today, this is not the case in our province.

The primary care position paper makes 11 recommendations for the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), IWK Health Centre and Department of Health and Wellness (DHW). The paper recommends that:

  1. Physicians must be given a choice in deciding what type of practice they want to work in and develop.
  2. The DHW and NSHA implement patient rostering as part of a new payment model for primary care.
  3. The DHW and NSHA work with DNS to develop a new blended-payment model to better support patient care, fair compensation and good stewardship of public funds.
  4. The DHW should ensure that compensation is not a disincentive for physicians to provide non-face-to-face services, and that physicians leverage opportunities to provide non-face-to-face services in their practices.
  5. The DHW and NSHA support family physicians in implementing same-day/next-day access in their practices, and that physicians use this support to improve access for their patients where appropriate.
  6. The DHW, NSHA, physician recruiters and Dalhousie Medical School work with DNS to develop a recruitment and retention strategy.
  7. The DHW, NSHA, physicians and other providers develop creative and flexible solutions that produce timely results for patients.
  8. Walk-in clinics be maintained during the transition to a better primary health-care system.
  9. Alternative payment plans (APPs) be maintained during the transition to a new primary health care system with opportunities to evolve to a blended payment model mechanism.
  10. The DHW, NSHA and IWK prioritize and invest in the development of a secure electronic health record accessible by all health-care providers.
  11. The DHW, the NSHA and the IWK engage physicians in transforming the primary care system in Nova Scotia.

The primary care renewal position paper was shaped by input from physicians from across the province, as well as extensive research on models and initiatives successfully implemented across Canada.

Next steps