Necessary Elements for Continuity
Continuity & Comprehensiveness of Care
Primary Care Toolkit for Family Physicians
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Major System Investments
Within this Primary Care Toolkit for family physicians, continuity and comprehensiveness of patient care, inter-disciplinary collaboration, and accurate and rapid access to patient health data (information management and technology), stand out as the modules that speak most to patients' experiences in and interactions with the health system. While the establishment of appropriate governance models and methods of remuneration are essential for the delivery of primary care by family physicians, patients are most apt to judge the value of the system by the availability of what they perceive as timely and appropriate care.
Delivering continuity and comprehensiveness of care requires major investments in infrastructure supports for primary care such as information technology hardware, software and training. Equally important in the long term are investments in the healthcare team. Teams do not and have not materialized without system investments in both the human resources (e.g. family practice nurses and other health professionals) as well as other important aspects (e.g. time and funding for team development) that require partnerships between governments and family practices or primary care groups to support a variety of models in healthcare delivery.
The push toward primary care teams, as the Health Council of Canada has stated, will not be successful unless there are sufficient care providers to become participants on these teams. It is therefore imperative to recognize and address the essential importance of recruitment and retention of family physicians in primary care. All other initiatives to support primary care will fail without appropriate numbers of available family physicians. While recognizing the valuable roles of other healthcare professionals, it is clear that the major primary care workforce is family physicians. Issues of remuneration and infrastructure support for family practice are therefore critical to the successful delivery of primary care. (See module on Interdisciplinary Collaboration.)