Advancing Primary Care in Central LHIN

Family physicians and other primary care providers are the front line of the local health system – caring for patients and their families close to home and supporting their journey through the health services they receive. Improving access to primary care for our residents and developing stronger linkages between primary care providers and other parts of the health system is aligned with our Integrated Health Service Plan and is a key quality priority for Central LHIN. 

Effective primary care is essential to a high performing health system. Lack of timely primary care access can create gaps in care that result in increased use of hospital emergency departments for conditions that could be better managed in the community.

Comprehensive primary care focused on chronic disease prevention and management is linked to reduced avoidable emergency department visits and hospitalizations. Given primary care’s central role, engagement and collaboration between primary care providers and the LHINs is necessary to improve system integration and achieve efficiencies. 

In order to achieve effective primary care, Central LHIN’s Advancing Primary Care Strategy focuses on three priority areas:

  • Preventing avoidable hospitalizations and re-hospitalizations
  • Promoting more timely access to primary care
  • Improving access to primary care for unattached patients.

Quality Improvement in Primary Care

On March 22, 2013, Central LHIN held its second Annual Quality Symposium - Quality Improvement in Primary Care.  The symposium was aligned with Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care as well as the Health Links principles of putting the person at the centre and the importance of primary care as a key contact for patients in all facets of their health care across the continuum. 

The session was attended by approximately 70 individuals, the majority of whom were primary care practitioners, and provided attendees with the tools to implement Quality Improvement in their practices and link across the continuum.

These tools will help health care providers be better positioned to contribute to system change in alignment with the Central LHIN’s Integrated Health Service Plan 2013-2016 focus of using evidence-based integrated health service provider communities that work together to improve care and are accountable to the system.

This forum is a good example of one of the ways we are working with primary care providers as a key stakeholder group and focusing specifically on quality. 

Primary Care Physician LHIN Lead

Across the province, LHINs have been building great partnerships with local primary care providers. The introduction of a Primary Care Physician Lead in each of the 14 LHINs is endorsed by both the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Ontario Medical Association and aligns with the government’s Action Plan commitment to bring planning for the full patient journey under the LHINs.

In Central LHIN, these partnerships have resulted in collaborative initiatives, including improving access to primary care services, in particular for unattached patients, and supporting the implementation of avoidable hospitalizations and other quality of care initiatives.

The mandate of the Primary Care Physician Lead is to support aligning primary care physician activities and objectives with LHIN priorities, such as advancing primary care services to support better patient outcomes, more timely access to primary care, prevent unnecessary emergency department (ED) and hospital visits, and increasing patient attachment.

Key elements of the Primary Care Physician Lead’s role are to:

  • Build relationships and linkages between primary care physicians and the LHIN
  • Develop these relationships and connections to promote improved communication and  information
  • Share and help spread primary care best-practices
  • Encourage physician collaboration and partnership with other sectors

Since October 2016, Dr. Steven Kahane, Lead Physician at Leslie Medical Family Health Organization in North York, has been working with Central LHIN to enable primary care services to be better integrated with the work of other health sectors. Dr. Kahane is also an active member of the physician team at North York General Hospital and is Assistant Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. By working together, the LHIN and local health service providers will continue to implement strategies to improve access to quality care for local residents.

For more information:

Additional resources: 

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