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Government & policy

Manitoba puts $11.8 million into physician network

WINNIPEG – Manitoba is investing $11.8 million over three years to expand its Physician Integrated Network, a program that helps family doctors work in teams with other healthcare providers so that patient care is better coordinated. The announcement was made by Health Minister Theresa Oswald announced.

“The first phase of the Physician Integrated Network initiative has been very successful in linking family doctors with other healthcare providers to better provide their patients with preventative care, treatment and follow-up care for chronic diseases,” said Oswald. “We’re providing additional funding to implement the second phase of the project, which includes recruiting 65 more family doctors to take part in the initiative.”

Clinics taking part in the Physician Integrated Network (PIN) initiative include family doctor medical groups. The PIN initiative provides support to clinics to improve the use of information management systems and enhance the delivery of quality care by hiring non-physician, healthcare professionals – such as nurses or dietitians – to work directly with patients for testing, screening, education and follow-up.

Components of the second phase of the initiative include:

• recruiting an additional 65 physicians to take part in the initiative,

• providing ongoing funding to the first four clinics that took part in the first phase of the initiative, and

• continuing to develop ways to address access to primary care, physician work-life balance and how information can be best used to deliver quality care.

“The PIN initiative has helped me to broaden my thinking for many of my routine office visits. The availability of an additional dietitian and nurse to our practice allows patients access to care they may otherwise not have received,” said Dr. Eric Lane, family physician at the Dr. C. W. Wiebe Medical Centre.

“We can now use the research function of the electronic medical record to assess the level of screening our patients are receiving, which has already led to increased screening in our patients. PIN is a great addition to our practice.”

Primary care emphasizes health promotion, illness prevention and timely treatment of disease. If necessary, primary-care practitioners will connect patients to more specialized care, such as care provided in hospitals.

The PIN initiative is guided by an advisory committee that includes representatives from:

• the University of Manitoba

• the colleges of Registered Nurses and Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba

• the Manitoba Medical Association

• the Winnipeg and Assiniboine regional health authorities

• and other key primary-care stakeholders.

The investments announced today build on other investments in primary care including:

• constructing ACCESS River East and ACCESS Transcona, one-stop health service centres combining a wide range of health and social services in one location;

• working with the University of Manitoba’s faculty of medicine to implement a two-year northern and remote family medicine streamed-residency program to encourage more doctors to practice in northern Manitoba;

• expanding the number of seats at the University of Manitoba’s faculty of medicine to 110 in 2008 from 70 in 1999;

• investing $355,000 to promote the expansion the Advanced Access model of patient scheduling which ensures more patients are able to see a doctor on a timely basis.

Funding for the second phase of the PIN initiative will be provided over the next three years.