The Alberta Government held a press conference on Friday to speak about their MAPS (Modernizing Alberta's Primary Health Care System) plan, which looks to change the healthcare system in the short term, as well as over a 5 and 10 year period.
Minister of Health Jason Copping said the government is looking to these changes to modernize the system. He said the strain the healthcare system has been under is due to an outdated system that needs modernizing.
"The issue is the model that we've constructed that quite frankly, for the most part hasn't changed in decades. The model of independent practice, the way they're paid, the integration, or quite frankly lack thereof, with specialists and the rest of our health care system," Copping said.
Copping believes a lot of reworking is necessary, but he doesn't want to blow the entire system up. He says the foundations are in place to install the kind of primary health care system they're looking for, and building from existing assets will strengthen the system as a whole.
As for what he's looking to improve, it can best be summed up through the five points he outlined. While there is more to it, these are the overarching goals of the MAPS program
- "Access. A system with the capacity to offer every Albertan access to timely, appropriate, primary health care from a regular provider or team."
- "Integration. A system where patients have seamless transitions to other health, social and community services."
- "A system where every patient gets high quality care. That should go without saying, but quality just doesn't happen. It has to be defined, it has to be measured, and we have to have a system that focuses on delivering it."
- "Patient focused. Having Albertans and their social support networks as meaningful partners in achieving their health and wellness."
- "Culturally safe and appropriate care. A system where First Nations, Metis and Inuit people have access to high quality, culturally safe care that is designed and delivered in a way that respects their unique needs."
These five points all connect to Copping's main point, which is improving access to primary care.
"We need to increase the access to primary care, and this is especially true in rural and remote areas of the province and for Indigenous peoples. And we need better integration between primary care and the rest of our health system, as well as community based social services. And we need to act urgently to stabilize and reinvest in primary care right now, while also starting the work to design a vision for the longer term. And that work is underway and it's my top priority as we head into the fall."
To reach these goals, three advisory panels with health care professionals were formed, so the government can hear what experts think needs to be done. The panels are led by:
- Dr. Brad Bahler and Dr. Janet Reynolds, strategic advisory panel
- Dr. Jennifer Njenga and Dr. Richard Lewanczuk, international expert advisory panel
- Trish Merrithew-Mercredi, Indigenous advisory panel. The appointment process for the co-chair will be complete soon.
During his presentation, Copping also emphasized that the problem does not lie with our current doctors and healthcare professionals.
He believes we have the best in the world, so the system needs to be revamped around the great workers we already have. While quality isn't a concern, quantity definitely is though, as he acknowledged the doctor shortage Alberta and the rest of Canada is facing. He hopes the new system will help address this concern as well.