Table of contents

Overview

The International Expert Panel shared expertise from other jurisdictions and informed the work of the Strategic Advisory Panel to help transform Alberta’s primary health care system. 

The panel brought together experts in primary health, health systems transformation and Alberta’s primary health care system to work with members of the Strategic Advisory Panel to identify immediate and long term recommendations for making improvements, monitoring progress on initiatives and reducing pressure on the acute care system.

Recommendations from the panel will support the Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care System initiative to strengthen primary health care in Alberta and ensure all Albertans have access to timely, appropriate primary health care services.

Timeline

  • Open

  • Results under review

  • Completed

Who is listening

Ministry of Health

Mandate

The International Expert Panel contributed to the Strategic Advisory Panel's final report that includes a recommended strategy to modernize Alberta's primary health care system. The panel's work was guided by the following goals:

  • Access - All Albertans have access to timely, appropriate primary health care services from a regular provider or team. Care options are flexible and reflect individual and population health needs.
  • Integration - Every Albertan has a health home that provides primary health care services and seamless transitions to other health, social and community services. 
  • Quality - Albertans receive high quality services from an accountable, innovative and sustainable primary health care system. Health service delivery is evidence informed, follows best practices and uses resources efficiently.
  • Albertans as partners - Albertans are partners in achieving their health and wellness goals. Health services are proactive, recognize and address underlying influences on health outcomes, and respect individual needs and preferences.
  • Culturally safe and appropriate care - First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples have access to high quality, culturally safe care designed and delivered in a manner that respects their unique health care needs.

The panel has finished their work and the report was presented to government.

Outcomes

Recommendations from the panel will help inform improvements to Alberta's primary health care system over the next 10 years.

Panel members

The International Expert Panel was comprised of members with expertise in primary health care, health systems transformation and Alberta’s primary health care system.

Dr. Jennifer Njenga, co-chair

Dr. Jennifer Njenga is the CEO and founder of Canada Homecare Group. She is an Edmonton-based physician with experience in several countries including South Africa, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Dr Njenga has a special interest in primary care, public health, Indigenous health, and maternal and child health. She has worked with vulnerable populations including seniors, refugees, and Indigenous communities. Her experience includes participating in the development and implementation of the Greater Auckland Integrated Health Network, localization of the Canterbury Pathways in Primary Care and the 20,000 Days Campaign in New Zealand, aimed at reducing hospital demand by formation of Collaborative Teams that provided healthcare in the community and streamlined referral processes.

Dr. Richard Lewanczuk, co-chair

Dr. Richard Lewanczuk is the Senior Medical Director for Health System Integration for Alberta Health Services. Prior to this, he was the Senior Medical Director for Primary Health Care for AHS, a position he held for 10 years. During this time, he was actively involved in the evolution of Primary Care Networks. Dr. Lewanczuk obtained his MD and PhD at the University of Alberta. He previously served as Medical Director of Chronic Disease Management for the Capital Health Authority. Dr. Lewanczuk is currently a Professor Emeritus at the University of Alberta but still co-chairs the Department of Medicine Working Group on Social Determinants of Health. Dr. Lewanczuk is actively involved both nationally and internationally in areas related to primary care and health system integration.

Dr. Robert Varnam, Panellist

Dr. Varnam has a background in researching and leading quality improvement. Over the last decade, he has been at the forefront of UK’s National Health Service (NHS) policy for integrated care, primary care transformation and improvement leadership. Most recently, he worked as national Director of Primary Care Improvement at NHS England and NHS Improvement. He has now stepped aside in order to spend more of his time providing hands-on support to leaders, particularly in healthcare and community development. 

Outside his very fulfilling working life, he has helped establish two charities, and served on the board, helping to grow their reach and impact. Dr. Varnam has led volunteer teams of varying sizes, and coached others to take up similar responsibilities. He still serves at his local church regularly, along with charities in the UK and South Africa. He is married to the amazing Emma Varnam, and they live the happiest of lives with their son and cat, enjoying the garden, walking and friends.

Rob Webster, Panellist

Rob is Chief Executive of National Health Service (NHS) West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board. He is also Lead Chief Executive for the West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, an integrated care system that he has led since 2016. This sees him bringing together West Yorkshire health and care leaders, organizations, and communities to deliver ambitious plans for improved health, care, and finances for 2.4 million people. Rob was also Chief Executive of South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust between 2016 and 2021. Rob was awarded the Health Service Journal (HSJ) Chief Executive of the Year Award in 2021, with his work on staff wellbeing, leadership and tackling inequalities during the pandemic all cited in his award.

After 16 years in central Government, Rob has proven to be a successful Chief Executive in the NHS, since 2007 running a number of commissioning organisations and providers of NHS services. He was Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation between 2014 and 2016. Rob is an active member of the NHS Assembly and leads or contributes to several national programs and networks. In 2020 he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to leadership in healthcare.

He is a visiting Professor at Leeds Beckett University and was proud to be made a Fellow of the Queen’s Nursing Institute in 2014. In May 2016 Rob became an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners. He is a proud to hold an honorary doctorate in health from the University of Bradford which bestowed for services during the pandemic.

Dr. David Haslam, Panellist

Sir David Haslam is a writer and healthcare policy consultant, and immediate past Chair of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). He is also past-President and past Chairman of Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners, past-President of the British Medical Association, a former vice-chairman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, and Professor of General Practice at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus. He was a GP in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, for over 35 years and has been Visiting Professor in Primary Health Care at de Montfort University, Leicester, an expert member of the National Health Service (NHS) National Quality Board, and National Clinical Adviser to both the Care Quality Commission and the Healthcare Commission. He was a Director of the State Health Services Organization in Cyprus for four years up to 2022.

David is a Fellow of the Royal College of GPs, a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Educators, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians.

Dr. Tina Korownyk, Panellist

Tina has worked as a Family Physician in Edmonton for over 15 years.  She is a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Alberta and currently serving as Interim Chair of the Department.  She is the Director of Patients Experience Evidence Research (PEER), an organization that seeks to empower primary care through the use of best evidence. She participates regularly in the development of Tools for Practice (one page evidence summaries that are distributed nationally every 2 weeks), Primary Care Guidelines and other knowledge translation activities.  She is a frequent speaker at provincial and national conferences and has published over 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals. She is the co-coordinator of the Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) program for Family Medicine residents at the University of Alberta and proud to be a part of the leadership team for Pragmatic Trials, searching to improve the care of patients through pragmatic randomized controlled trials.  

Dr. Jeannie Haggerty, Panellist

Holder of the first McGill Chair in Family and Community Medicine Research, based at St. Mary’s Hospital Centre and McGill University, Dr. Haggerty’s domain of research is the measure of patient experience of patient-centered health care and measurement of access and continuity, and how these measures relate to changes in organizational and professional practices. St. Mary’s Hospital Centre was part of the first wave of hospitals in Canada engaging patients in health services improvement, and she co-led action research programs engaging patients in health service redesign. 

She is nominated principal investigator of a Canada-Australia research program that aims to improve access to primary health care for socially vulnerable persons. In this participatory action research program researchers partnered with health system decision-makers in six local areas to identify the needs of vulnerable populations for primary health care access, and then co-designed and implemented interventions to increase their access to comprehensive primary health care. The Quebec initiative successfully mobilized lay volunteers navigators reach out by telephone to socially vulnerable patients prior to the first visit to a newly assigned family physicians. They orientation the patient to the clinic and provided tips and tools to plan their visit. The intervention showed dramatic effects in more appropriate healthcare use and initiation of positive attachments to the family physician, and is being spread to other contexts

Dr. Rick Glazier, Panellist

Dr. Rick Glazier, MD, MPH, is a Senior Scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES). He is also a staff family physician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and a scientist in its MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, and a Professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, and Dalla Lana School of Public Health.  

His research interests include evaluating health system transformation, primary care health services delivery models, health of disadvantaged populations, management of chronic conditions, and population-based and geographic methods for improving equity in health.

Nick Goodwin, Panellist

In July 2019, Professor Nick Goodwin was appointed as the inaugural Director of the Central Coast Research Institute for Integrated Care and also as Director of Research for Central Coast Local Health District.

Nick has long been at the forefront of a global health policy trend towards integrated care that seeks to better coordinate and deliver health services around people’s needs. Throughout his impressive career, Nick has held leadership roles for globally-renowned organizations such as the International Foundation for Integrated Care (IFIC), which he co-founded, and spearheaded integrated care programs for the likes of The King’s Fund — the UK’s leading health charity.

Amongst his many career achievements, Nick co-wrote and edited the World Health Organization’s Global Framework on People-Centred and Integrated Health Services that was ratified by the World Health Assembly in 2016 and adopted by countries worldwide. In an advisory capacity, Nick has also helped contribute to national government policy reforms in Belgium, Spain, England, Finland, Kazakhstan, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Taiwan.

Dr. David Price, Panellist

Dr. David Price is a Professor and Past Chair (2006-2021) in the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University, and former Chief of Family Medicine at Hamilton Health Sciences (2004-2018). During his tenure as chair, the Department grew exponentially, graduating over 100 family medicine residents annually. Dr. Price was also instrumental in helping to create the academic FHT at McMaster University, an interprofessional team currently serving over 40,000 patients in the Hamilton area.

Dr. Price has also been involved with local, regional, and provincial government bodies where he acts as a consultant and advisor to provincial governments in Canada, as well as internationally. He was the Chair of the Provincial (Ontario) Expert Advisory Panel on Primary Care (2013-2014) and is currently the Chair of the Minister of Health’s Primary Care Advisory Table. He has also been a member of Ontario’s Covid-19 Health Coordination Table since April 2020.

Dr. Katherine Rouleau, Panellist

Dr. Katherine Rouleau is a family physician at Unity Health- St-Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, as well as Vice-Chair, Global Health & Social Accountability, and director of the WHO Collaborating Centre on Family Medicine and Primary Care at the Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto. She was the founding director of the Besrour Centre for Global Family Medicine at the College of Family Physicians of Canada. 

For over twenty-five years, she has worked with, and learned from countless collaborators committed to primary care strengthening and family medicine in low- and middle-income countries. Over the past decade, she has focused some of her work on enabling the orientation of health systems to a primary health care approach through work for the World Health Organization and other key stakeholders. Her academic, clinical and leadership interests center on improving health equity and addressing the complex health needs of individuals and communities impacted by adverse determinants of health through high quality comprehensive primary care at the core of PHC-oriented health systems. Dr. Rouleau has contributed as co-author and co-editor to numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals, WHO documents and textbooks

Dr. Robert Phillips, Panellist

Dr. Robert Phillips is a graduate of the Missouri University of Science and Technology and the University of Florida College of Medicine where he graduated with honours for special distinction. He trained in family medicine at the University of Missouri, followed by a fellowship in health services research and public health. Dr. Phillips was the Director of the Robert Graham Center in Washington DC from 2004-2012. In 2012, he moved to the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) as Vice President for Research and Policy and in 2018, Dr. Phillips was named the founding Executive Director of the Center for Professionalism and Value in Health Care. 

Dr. Phillips currently practices part-time in a community-based residency program and is a Professor of Family Medicine at Georgetown University and Virginia Commonwealth University. He also has faculty appointments at George Washington University and Harvard Medical School. He previously served on the American Medical Association’s Council on Medical Education, as president of the National Residency Matching Program, vice chair of the US Council on Graduate Medical Education, and co-chair of Population Health on the National Committee for Vital and Health Statistics. He served as a Fulbright Specialist to the Netherlands in 2012 and New Zealand in 2016. A nationally recognized leader on primary care policy and health care reform, Dr. Phillips was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2010 and currently chairs the NAM Membership Committee.

Dr. Samir Sinha, Panellist

Dr. Samir Sinha is the Director of Geriatrics at Sinai Health System and the University Health Network in Toronto, a Professor of Medicine, Family and Community Medicine, and Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at the University of Toronto and the Director of Health Policy Research at Toronto Metropolitan University’s National Institute on Ageing. 

A Rhodes Scholar, Dr. Sinha is a highly regarded clinician and international expert in the care of older adults. He is the Architect of the Government of Ontario’s Seniors Strategy and in 2014, Maclean’s proclaimed him to be one of Canada’s 50 most influential people and its most compelling voice for the elderly.  Dr. Sinha is a member of the Government of Canada’s National Seniors Council, and is also currently leading the development of new National Long-Term Care Standards for Canada.  

Beyond Canada, Dr. Sinha is a Fellow of the American Geriatrics Society, a member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.  Dr. Sinha has further consulted and advised hospitals and health authorities in Britain, China, Iceland, Singapore, St. Kitts and Nevis, Taiwan and the United States on the implementation and administration of unique, integrated and innovative models of geriatric care that reduce disease burden, improve access and capacity and ultimately promote health.

Dr. Lindsay Crowshoe, Panellist

Dr. Crowshoe is a member Piikani Nation, a First Nations physician, and an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Calgary. Dr. Crowshoe provides clinical service to the urban Indigenous population of Calgary at the Elbow River Healing Lodge, an Alberta Health Services (AHS) primary health service model that he developed. He has contributed to health services policy and programs, focusing on primary care service innovations for Indigenous people and has provided input on Indigenous health issues at provincial and national levels within key governmental, health and research organizations.

Jennifer Mador, Panellist

Jennifer Mador is a Nurse Practitioner (NP) from the Edmonton Zone trained as a Family All Ages designation. She is going into her tenth year of NP practice, having worked in BC, Ontario and Alberta.  She has experience in primary care, rural and remote outreach, inpatient family medicine, and Emergency. For the last three years she has predominantly functioned in the Emergency Department and the associated NP-led ED Transition Clinic at Strathcona Community Hospital. She is the facilitator for the Edmonton Zone NP Community of Practice and a team lead for the Virtual Care program at Strathcona. She is an educator supporting the training of upcoming Nurse Practitioners from across the country. In her spare time she volunteers with the NPAA as Director of Rural Primary Care. She is passionate about primary care, advancing nurse practitioner practice and supporting a nursing culture of mentorship and lifelong learning.

Dr. Michael Roberts, Panellist

Dr. Roberts Mike trained in London, qualifying in 1985. He subsequently gained fellowships of the Royal College of Surgeons in England and the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine.

As a Specialist in Emergency Medicine he saw, on a daily basis, the impact of race, gender, sexual orientation and other social determinants of health on the well-being of the patients he treated. 

Throughout his subsequent career as a Chief Medical Officer he has maintained a strong focus on equity, developing and supporting strategic initiatives which address the problem. 

Mike is humbled by the invitation to work with this group and looks forward to meeting other members.