Alberta’s government is pulling out all the stops to stabilize, strengthen and improve Alberta's primary health care system. Part of this commitment includes the Panel Management Support Program, designed to help offset costs for primary care providers to provide comprehensive care as their patient panels grow. The program is part of the Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care System (MAPS) initiative and is an opportunity to provide additional aid to the primary health care sector.
In October, the government committed to providing $57 million over three years to support family practitioners in managing their increasing number of patients. The first allocation of $12 million for 2023-24 has been given to the Alberta Medical Association (AMA), which will administer the program. This is in addition to $200 million over two years through the new Canada-Alberta Health Funding Agreement to help stabilize primary health care and improve access to family physicians, which will be available in April.
“This funding will help family practitioners manage their growing number of patients and is another way we’re taking action to stabilize and strengthen primary health care. We continue to collaborate with the AMA at various working tables to address challenges facing the system and to do what is necessary to make primary health care the foundation of the entire health care system.”
Payments through the program will vary depending on the number of patients on a physician’s panel. Physicians who have a patient panel of more than 500 patients are eligible for a quarterly payment between $1,000 and $2,500. Each provider has the potential to receive up to $10,000 annually.
“We appreciate the ongoing discussions with the minister and the funds that are being announced. This and the federal funding will, when paid out, be a down payment to help stabilize physician practices. Immediate stabilization is just the first phase, requiring additional support of practices until they can transition to a new model for funding comprehensive, lifelong care for our patients. We look forward to more details around the timing of the rest of the budget.”
Growing and managing a panel of patients in primary care generates costs that are not faced by all practice environments. Recipients are expected to use the money to fund staff, technology and other practice resources to reduce the time, cost and effort spent on administrative tasks involved with providing comprehensive primary care, allowing family practitioners to spend more time with patients.
Nurse practitioners will also be eligible to receive this funding once the new funding model for nurse practitioners is finalized in the coming weeks.
Other recently announced supports for primary health care include:
Ongoing base compensation for primary care physicians is expected to be $1.76 billion in the current fiscal year.
Committing to create a primary care organization within the refocused provincial health care system to coordinate primary health care services and provide transparent provincial oversight, with the goal of ensuring every Albertan will be attached to a family physician or primary care provider.
Investing $40 million over two years to support Primary Care Networks.
Investing $12 million for the Community Information Integration and Central Patient Attachment Registry, enabling doctors and their teams to share patient information from their electronic medical record to Alberta Netcare.
Committing to implement recommendations from the Modernizing Alberta's Primary Health Care System initiative through a phased approach.
Creating a primary health care division within Alberta Health.
- Strengthening health care: Improving access for all (Oct. 18, 2023)