Primary health care is the foundation of Alberta’s health care system, and family physicians and rural generalists are fundamental to Albertans getting the care they need when and where they need it. That’s why Alberta’s government is pulling out all the stops to stabilize, strengthen and improve Alberta's primary health care system. 

Following extensive consultation, Alberta’s government is pleased to introduce a new physician compensation model framework. When implemented, Alberta’s government expects it will make Alberta a national leader in recruiting and retaining primary care physicians. The new compensation model will support family physicians in developing long-term relationships with their patients and ensure health care needs are met through all phases of a patient’s life. It will also incentivise family physicians to provide care for more patients – so more Albertans have a primary care provider.

The new, modernized model will provide alternative physician compensation for family physicians and rural generalists who are currently remunerated through fee-for-service or alternative physician compensation models. It will include recognition of their unique work and will provide supports so physicians can provide comprehensive, lifelong patient care. It will also support family physicians and rural generalists to work within a team environment to ensure patients receive the right care when and where they need it.

“We’ve been working closely with our partners at the Alberta Medical Association for the last six months on a range of initiatives to strengthen primary health care, including the development of a new compensation model for family physicians that encourages comprehensive care. This will help improve patient access to primary care and help more Albertans access the care they need, where and when they need it.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Health

Other features of the model will include signing an agreement to provide comprehensive care, providing a certain number of hours of service, providing most services in-person rather than virtually, and committing to join the Central Patient Attachment Registry, a provincial system that captures the confirmed relationship of a primary care provider and their paneled patients. 

Family physicians and rural generalists will be eligible to participate in the compensation model depending on the number of patients they have. Alberta’s government has heard that doctors with small panel sizes work in a variety of different settings, and as part of the ongoing discussions about a future funding model, Alberta’s government will work closely with the AMA on how to incentivize these doctors to join the new model. Discussions are ongoing to determine the minimum panel size.

“This is an extraordinary milestone for family and rural generalist medicine. The model will support sustainable family and rural practices so that the physicians who work in them can deliver the comprehensive care that they are uniquely trained and so proud to provide. I want to thank the AMA Strike Team committee that has laboured with the minister’s team to get us here. I look forward to the next few months, focusing on getting the details right, but the heavy lifting has been done.”

Dr. Paul Parks, president, Alberta Medical Association

The next step in this process is for the management committee to recommend rates that family physicians and rural generalists will be paid under the new model. The committee is the top governance body under the physician agreement between Alberta’s government and the AMA. It will then go to the rates committee, which has 30 days to come to an agreement on rate recommendations once the management committee’s proposal has been received. Final recommendations are expected to go to the minister of health by the fall.

Quick facts

  • While there are a number of alternative compensation models available to family physicians in Alberta that pay physicians for the time spent with patients or the type and number of patients who receive primary care services, the majority of family physicians choose to be paid through fee for service.
  • The new comprehensive care compensation model will be the first physician payment model in Alberta that recognizes the extensive training, experience and leadership of family physicians and rural generalists in delivering comprehensive primary health care.
  • There are about 700 Alberta family physicians who have between 250 and 499 patients, 1,180 who have panel sizes of 500-999, 880 who have between 1,000 and 1,499 patients, and 880 who have panel sizes of 1,500 patients or more.   
  • Other recently announced supports for primary health care total more than $2 billion and include:
    • Providing ongoing base compensation for primary care physicians that is expected to be more than $2.3 billion in 2024-25.
    • Committing $200 million over two years to stabilize primary health care.
    • $57 million to support panel management.
    • 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 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 have a family physician or primary care provider.
    • 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.

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