Doctors offer recommendations to improve care for Nova Scotians

Nova Scotia doctors have developed two comprehensive position papers to help fix the province’s ailing health-care system. Included are 11 actions aimed at improving primary care access for Nova Scotians and five suggestions for health system decision-makers to improve physician involvement in health system change.

Primary health care is the foundation of Nova Scotia’s health-care system. It is the first place people go for health care or wellness advice, 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.

“Our province has a significant task ahead of it to improve access to primary care for Nova Scotians and doctors have solutions to help solve the issues that are getting in the way of progress,” said Dr. Michelle Dow, President of Doctors Nova Scotia.

While Doctors Nova Scotia is supportive of a move to collaborative care for physicians who choose to practice in a team-based approach, how it’s done matters.

“While Doctors Nova Scotia supports collaborative care – in fact many physicians have been working in collaborative care settings for decades and it’s the model new graduates are trained in – we believe key elements are missing that would support a new primary care model in our province.” said Dr. Dow. 

For doctors, one of the greatest barriers to moving to a collaborative practice is the current physician payment model doesn’t meet the needs of patients or physicians. Doctors recommend a blended payment model that supports physicians in spending the time they need with patients who have complex care needs.

“It’s also critical that the implementation of this model is flexible so it meets the unique needs of our patients and communities and allows teams to look different from community to community,” she said. “And doctors currently practicing medicine in Nova Scotia must be given a choice whether or not to move to a collaborative practice.”

Doctors also believe in a fully integrated e-health system and recommend better use of technology and non-face-to-face care, which is more convenient for patients and enables doctors to see more urgent cases.

This perspective and expertise is the value decision-makers get when physicians are meaningfully involved in health system change. Meaningful physician engagement is key to successfully changing the health system. That’s exactly what the second position papers outlines.

The physician engagement position paper outlines commitments for Doctors Nova Scotia (DNS) to uphold in order to support and encourage the association’s members in getting involved in system change. It also has five recommendations for both health system decision-makers and physicians to consider.

“Doctors want to work with our partners in the health-care system to improve care for our patients and we believe we have solutions to help us take steps in that direction,” said Dr. Dow.

Doctors Nova Scotia represents over 3,500 members. Membership includes practicing and retired physicians, medical students and residents. Incorporated in 1861, it’s the oldest medical association in Canada.


Barb Johnson
Senior communications advisor
1-800-563-3427 ext. 4915