A powerful group of family physicians met this morning at our first Member Forum co-hosted by the Alberta College of Family Physicians (ACFP) and the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) Sections of Family Medicine and Rural Medicine. We met before the kickoff of the Family Medicine Summit to talk about “The Future of Family Medicine”. It was a challenging start to the conference as it highlighted the frustration and uncertainty that our members are feeling right now.
We heard that you don’t want to sit back and wait for things to change, that you want to be a part of the change. We heard that you want us to do a better job of building awareness and advocating for you and your patients. We heard that you feel strongly that we need to keep family medicine alive, that you want to talk in person (not over social media) with your colleagues and representative organizations about how family medicine needs to be represented. You also want to know how you can engage patients and the public to gain knowledge and understanding and to be vocal about how the current changes will make it harder to access the best care possible. Family Physicians are upset, anxious, overwhelmed, and frustrated.
We talked about approaches, ways of building understanding, and what could be possible. When asked “What enabling innovations would be needed to support their vision for family physicians 10 years from now?”, we received 30 submissions!
You feel that we need to embrace technology and tools that give us the ability for patients to be served by their team in their Patient’s Medical Home (PMH) through multiple means. The personal connection that comes with a face to face visit is valuable and we also need to be open to other ways of connecting such as telehealth, health apps, and automated and online tools to make interactions with the PMH team more timely and accessible.
Public investment in team and compensation models for physicians need to be adapted to reflect a return on investment by the physician owner operators in primary care. Family Medicine cannot continue to be the last thing that gets considered and funded in system and service planning and the first to be cut when resources are scarce. Well-resourced family medicine and primary care will create healthier Albertans and keep care in the community. We need to get this right!
These compelling innovations are possible and probable, and family physicians want to be co-designers, to ensure they will be built for practice, so that it will make it easier for them to spend time in their work day to do the things that matter most,caring for people.
The future is difficult to picture, let alone believe in right now. Don’t give up, don’t give in. We know we need to work harder on your behalf. But do not underestimate the power of individual members and primary care leaders working hard in communities across Alberta to build awareness and generate public support for the important and valued role that family physicians play in the health of a community. Albertans are hearing the ethical, empathetic, passionate, and compassionate voice of family medicine, and ACFP and AMA will do all that we can to amplify that voice.
Sincerely and in your service,
Dr. Vishal Bhella, President ACFP and Dr. Allan L. Bailey, Representative from Section of Family Medicine/Rural Medicine on behalf of Dr. Craig Hodgson.