Family doctors meet to begin developing a new primary care payment model for Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s family doctors are working on a solution to help revive full-scope comprehensive family medicine in the province. 

On Saturday, Jan. 6 more than 25 family doctors representing different styles of practice, payment models and areas of the province will come together to review lessons learned about primary care payment models in other jurisdictions and to explore ideas about what the core elements of a new primary care payment model could look like in Nova Scotia. 

The results of the meeting will be shared with the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) and the government with the hope of getting the work of a multi-stakeholder Primary Care Payment Model Working Group underway within the month.

Reviving comprehensive family medicine is a priority for the province’s doctors, as articulated in Doctors Nova Scotia’s report, Healing Nova Scotia: Recommendations for a thriving physician workforce.  The way physicians are compensated can be a barrier to providing the comprehensive and collaborative primary care services that Nova Scotia’s sick and aging population needs. 

Under the fee-for-service payment model, doctors are usually compensated for the number of services they provide, not the length of time they spend with patients or collaborating with other health-care providers, such as nurses or pharmacists. Nova Scotia’s doctors have identified the need to shift compensation to mechanisms that better support the delivery of preventative medicine and chronic disease management. 

“Over the past two decades we’ve seen other provinces adapt and introduce difference payment models to support comprehensive and collaborative care,” said Dr. Manoj Vohra, President of Doctors Nova Scotia. “Nova Scotia’s funding models must evolve to support doctors in delivering more effective primary care.”

With more than 90,000 Nova Scotians without a family doctor and more than 40,000 Nova Scotians on a wait list for a family doctor, the time for action is now. 

“Primary health care is the backbone of Nova Scotia’s health-care system and reviving full-scope family medicine is a vital piece of work for Doctors Nova Scotia,” said Dr. Vohra. “We’ve been advocating for a new primary care payment model for a long time and we cannot wait any longer.”

In April 2017, Nova Scotia doctors developed a comprehensive position paper, Fixing Nova Scotia’s Primary Health Care Problem: Physicians’ recommendations to improve primary care in Nova Scotia. The paper makes 11 recommendations to the NSHA and the Department of Health and Wellness to help improve care for Nova Scotians, including the recommendation to explore, develop and implement a new primary care payment model to help address the primary care crisis.

“A new primary care payment model is necessary to stabilize and modernize primary care in Nova Scotia and to improve the ability for Nova Scotians to access the care they need. Ultimately, we hope government and the NSHA will be interested in the work family doctors are doing and, together, we can take steps toward improving primary care for all Nova Scotians,” said Dr. Vohra.

Note to editors:

Media are invited to interview Dr. Manoj Vohra, President of Doctors Nova Scotia and Dr. Tim Holland, President-Elect of Doctors Nova Scotia, during the lunch break between 12:00 p.m. - 12:30 p.m. Other physicians in attendance may also be available for interviews during that time period. 

Event Details

Date: Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018
Location: Best Western Hotel, 15 Spectacle Lake Dr., Dartmouth
Time: 12-12:30 p.m.


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