Easier, quicker for Albertans to find a family doctor
Albertans looking for a family doctor can now find one at the click of a button, thanks to the launch of a new provincial Find a Doctor website.
About one in four family doctors throughout the province – 956 in total – are currently accepting new patients. Alberta’s Primary Care Networks (PCNs) have joined forces to make it quicker and easier for those looking for a doctor to connect with physicians, in both rural and urban areas.
Albertans can visit albertafindadoctor.ca on their mobile device, tablet, laptop or desktop computer to find out which doctors are taking patients in their community.
“This website is a great tool to help Albertans find a family physician,” said Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health. “There are nearly 1,000 family physicians willing to take on new patients and this site will help connect them with patients who need them. Congratulations to the PCNs and Alberta Health Services for collaborating to strengthen primary health care in Alberta.”
Visitors to the website can search for doctors by location, using a Google Maps search tool. They can also specify physician gender and languages spoken. Once the patient decides which doctor or clinic works best for them, they can call the clinic to request an appointment.
“The Find a Doctor website makes it easier for all Albertans to find a doctor and health team to help them build a healthier future,” said Calgary family doctor Dr. Ernst Greyvenstein, Primary Care Networks Physician Lead for the Calgary Zone. “Patients who have a long-lasting relationship with a family doctor and team are healthier as they age, make less visits to emergency departments and spend less time in hospital. This new service is about connecting families with doctors who are taking patients – and ultimately improving the health of Albertans.”
The service is free to use and in addition to being available online, it can be accessed by calling Health Link at 811.
“I used the website to help me find a doctor when I moved to Alberta from Cranbrook, B.C.,” said Divya Laxmi, who recently relocated to Calgary. “I searched for someone who met all my needs, so I looked only for female physicians. It was very easy – the whole process only took 10 to 15 minutes. I’ve already recommended the website to friends.”
Because the new website is interactive, there are no delays or long waits. The listings are updated regularly to ensure the data is as up-to-date and as accurate as possible.
“Access to a family doctor is a very important part of our healthcare system. Family doctors and teams play a major role in keeping Albertans and our communities well,” said Dr. Linda Slocombe, Senior Medical Director for Alberta Health Services’ (AHS) Primary Health Care program. “AHS continues to work together with Primary Care Networks on exciting initiatives, such as this new provincial website, to help connect patients to the care they need.”
Alberta Find a Doctor brings together services that previously existed in Calgary (calgaryareadocs.com), Edmonton (edmontonareadocs.ca) and some other parts of the province.
“We believe every Albertan should have access to a family doctor and a medical home,” said Edmonton family physician Dr. Justin Balko, Primary Care Network Physician Lead Executive for the Edmonton Zone. “Four or five years ago we were dealing with severe doctor shortages throughout the province and although the situation is much improved, there’s still a perception that it is very difficult to find a family doctor. The Alberta Find a Doctor website gives Albertans a single, simple and reliable way of finding a doctor and where possible, one who is close to home, work or wherever is most convenient.”
In Alberta, most family doctors are members of Primary Care Networks. PCNs develop programs and services to help meet the everyday health needs of the patients and communities they serve. They work alongside more than 3,800 family doctors and 1,400 other health professionals – including nurses, pharmacists, mental health professionals and social workers – to provide team-based care. Information about how patients can find their PCN and access free programs and services is also available via the website.
“The new website will help Albertans who have a family doctor to make the most of that relationship, by explaining how to access health teams and programs and services that are available through their PCN or family doctor,” said Dr. Greyvenstein. “It’s a one-stop resource for patients who need a family doctor or have a doctor and want to learn more about how they can access the best possible care for their families.”
There are currently 956 doctors in Alberta taking new patients. Of those, 403 are in Calgary and 316 are in Edmonton. There are 120 doctors accepting patients in the north, 51 in central Alberta and 66 in the south. The Government of Alberta announced last month that nurse practitioners are set to be hired to work in PCNs and medical clinics in communities where patients have difficulty accessing a family doctor. Patients will soon be able to visit albertafindadoctor.ca to search for nurse practitioners who are taking patients. A report released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) in September 2019 showed that the number of family physicians in Canada grew by 12 per cent between 2014 and 2018. Statistics Canada estimates that about 18 per cent of Albertans don’t have a family doctor.