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Primary health care investments provide faster care, closer to home

Albertans will soon have even more convenient and timely access to the services of primary health care professionals.

Health worker sharing nutrition information with new mom and baby

The government is making $32 million available to Primary Care Networks (PCN) in 2014-15 to implement advancements such as same day/next day appointments and extended operating hours.

The government will also be making up to $45 million in new funding in Budget 2014 available for the implementation of nine new Family Care Clinics in the Edmonton, Calgary, Peace River, and central Alberta areas that will focus on providing community-specific health care services.

These efforts are supported by the government’s continuing efforts to expand the scope of practice of a variety of health professionals in the province, including most recently pharmacists and optometrists.

“These investments are part of the government’s ongoing efforts to increase the availability and convenience of primary health care services in Alberta communities. By ensuring that Albertans are able to access care from a variety of health care professionals at times and locations that are convenient to them is key in both helping people manage their health and in the province achieving better health outcomes overall.”

Fred Horne, Health Minister

In addition, a Primary Health Care Strategic Clinical Network will be established to provide research that will aid in the ongoing development of primary health care in Alberta.

Future primary health care decisions will be made based on ongoing research and will be based on the principles of the Primary Health Care Strategy. Decisions will be patient focused, regardless of what model of care is implemented moving forward.

Under the Building Alberta Plan, our government is investing in families and communities, living within our means, and opening new markets for Alberta's resources to ensure we're able to fund the services Albertans told us matter most to them. We will continue to deliver the responsible change Albertans voted for. 


About Primary health care


Total primary health care investments outlined in Budget 2014 - $271 million.

This includes:

  • $208 million allocated to ongoing operations of the province’s 42 PCNs;
  • $10 million in Budget 2014 (plus $22 million from PCN reserves for a total investment of $32 million in PCN enhancements in 2014-15); and
  • up to $45 million being made available for the establishment of nine new FCCs.

Primary Care Networks (PCNs)

  • PCNs are networks of privately-owned physician offices (multiple locations) that receive supplementary funding to hire other health professionals to help deliver enhanced services to their patients.
  • The model was first introduced in 2003 to improve access to doctors and other front-line health professionals in Alberta.
  •  There are currently 42 PCNs across Alberta.
  • There is $208 million budgeted to PCNs in 2014-15. The funds will be used for volume increases as more Albertans become part of the networks in the coming year.
  • Advancements of PCN services are referred to as PCN evolution.  
  • PCN evolution activities include enhanced services such as extended hours, same day or next day patient access, notifying patients what PCN they belong to and the services each PCN provides, and improved continuity of patient care.
  • PCN access to additional funding will be through amendments to PCN business plans.

Family Care Clinics (FCCs)

  • FCCs are based in a single location and focus on the unique health and social needs of the communities they serve. They provide non-emergency primary health care services, such as diagnosis and treatment of illness, screening, immunization, health promotion, chronic disease prevention and management, and links to other health and community agencies.
  • The government has been engaged in an extensive consultation process with 24 high-needs communities in Alberta to gauge the potential to develop community-focused FCCs.
  • Up to $45 million in funding is being made available  to the following areas for the development of service-specific FCCs this year:
    • Calgary Centre North – with a strong focus on vulnerable seniors;
    • Calgary West Bow – focusing on unattached patients;
    • Consort – focused on seniors who live alone;
    • Edmonton Boyle McCauley – focusing on vulnerable youth;
    • Edmonton Oliver – proposed collaborative team training site;
    • Metis Nation Association of Alberta – aimed at meeting the needs of the Metis population;
    • Peace River – focusing on outreach for seniors and targeted services for newborns and children;
    • Sylvan Lake – focused on same day and extended hour access;
    • Siksika – focusing on elder care, nutrition and diabetes, and after- hours access; and,
    • work is continuing with other communities identified for an FCC.

Primary Health Care Strategy

Approved earlier this year, the strategy contains three directions:

  1. Enhancing the delivery of care
    1. providing every Albertan with a home in the primary health care system;
    2. establishing clear expectations for care delivery; and
    3. integrating and co-ordinating services;
  1. Cultural change
    1. encouraging and supporting Albertans to take an active role in their health;
    2. promoting team-based care and collaboration;
    3. fostering a culture of continuous learning;
    4. innovation and trust; and,
    5. developing a greater understanding of the social determinants of health.
  1. Building blocks for change
    1. establishing governance to create an effective primary health care system;
    2. implementing compensation models that support innovation and team-based care;
    3. putting in place common information management and information technology;
    4. developing and supporting the primary health care workforce;
    5. involving the community and being responsive to local needs;
    6. communicating about primary health care; and
    7. evaluating effectiveness.    

Strategic Clinical Networks (SCNs)

  • A Primary Health Care Strategic Clinical Network with $1 million in funding will be established to provide research and best practice development that will aid in the ongoing development of primary health care in Alberta.
  • SCNs are made up of people who are passionate and knowledgeable about specific areas of health and are focused on advancing research in their area of focus.
  • There are currently 10 SCNs in Alberta focused on the following areas of care:
    • Addiction and Mental Health;
    • Bone and Joint Health;
    • Cancer;
    • Cardiovascular Health and Stroke;
    • Critical Care;
    • Emergency;
    • Obesity, Diabetes and Nutrition;
    • Respiratory;
    • Seniors' Health; and,
    • Surgery.
  • SCN successes include reduced wait times for hip and knee surgery and cancer care, freeing up acute care bed days to help save time and money, and working to improve the patient and family journey through emergency care in Alberta.

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