New initiative ensures more Nova Scotians are connected to a primary care provider

It’s clear that there is a great need to enhance access to care, as we are facing many challenges related to the pandemic, crisis level staffing shortages, along with recruitment and retention issues especially in rural communities across the province.

That’s why Nova Scotia Health and Dalhousie Family Medicine are collaborating on a new initiative to ensure more Nova Scotians are connected to a primary care provider, and recent graduates of Dalhousie Family Medicine gain valuable hands-on experience.

The Nova Scotia Health – Dalhousie Family Medicine Primary Care Proof of Concept has been implemented in the two Dalhousie Family Medicine Clinics that are part of Primary Health Care in Nova Scotia Health – Mumford Road and Spryfield. It will enhance access for current patients of the clinics, patients waiting on the registry, along with recruitment and retention of physicians in the province.

“This type of initiative is what Health Innovation Hub is about in Nova Scotia Health – we test and try new innovations and innovative models of care by applying best practice evidence to bring solutions to enhance access and care for Nova Scotians,” said Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy, Vice President, Research, Innovation and Discovery and Chief Nurse Executive. “We are excited to work with Dalhousie University and to enhance learning environment for physicians, residents and multidisciplinary team of professionals working in collaborative care teams while enhance care and experience for Nova Scotians.”

The incubator clinics will be open to family medicine graduates and other health care professionals who are seeking to establish practice in Nova Scotia. This will allow new health care professionals to be part of a rotating model with new providers stepping in periodically to work with patients in a stable practice. This is expected to create a steady stream toward attachment to a primary health care provider for patients on the Need a Family Practice Registry.

Adopting new ideas and new ways of doing things is what drives better care for patients. We’ve seen success with innovation in other areas of our healthcare system,” says Michelle Thompson, Minister of Health in a news release. “These projects will help doctors put down roots in our communities and help patients receive the right care.

Some of the key impacts to date include connecting more than 780 people in the communities of Fairview, Armdale, Spryfield, Herring Cove and Halifax Chebucto with a primary care provider; and the ongoing engagement of health care teams and patients, so key learnings are being documented in real time.

“A key aspect of this proof of concept is ensuring we support a quick implementation by engaging all team members involved and patients and working with key partners while facilitating a rapid learning environment through ongoing evaluation and monitoring key impacts,” said Dr. Tara Sampalli, Senior Scientific Director and implementation co-lead of the initiative.

““This is an exciting opportunity for Nova Scotia Health and Dalhousie University to inspire change in the way that primary care is delivered in our province,” said Grayson Fulmer, Senior Director, Medical Affairs and implementation co-lead. “Closing the gap between evidence generation and health care worker engagement requires front line trials and collaboration to have a real impact that will ripple across the province and even further.”

The approach being taken by Nova Scotia Health and Dalhousie Family Medicine will inform ongoing improvements as well as how this initiative will be scaled across the province. To begin, the goal of these clinics is to remove 3500 people from the Need a Family Practice Registry.

“We are so thankful for our partners who have made this project possible. We know that this is the beginning of a new way of looking at how we can meet providers’ needs and, in turn, help them meet the needs of patients and families across Nova Scotia,” said Dr. Nicole Boutilier, Vice-President of Medicine.