Ontario’s Primary Care Reforms Have Transformed The Local Care Landscape, But A Plan Is Needed For Ongoing Improvement
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Primary care in Ontario, Canada, has undergone a series of reforms designed to improve access to care, patient and provider satisfaction, care quality, and health system efficiency and sustainability. We highlight key features of the reforms, which included patient enrollment with a primary care provider; funding for interprofessional primary care organizations; and physician reimbursement based on varying blends of fee-for-service, capitation, and pay-for-performance. With nearly 75 percent of Ontario's population now enrolled in these new models, total payments to primary care physicians increased by 32 percent between 2006 and 2010, and the proportion of Ontario primary care physicians who reported overall satisfaction with the practice of medicine rose from 76 percent in 2009 to 84 percent in 2012. However, primary care in Ontario also faces challenges. There is no meaningful performance measurement system that tracks the impact of these innovations, for example. A better system of risk adjustment is also needed in capitated plans so that groups have the incentive to take on high-need patients. Ongoing investment in these models is required despite fiscal constraints. We recommend a clearly articulated policy road map to continue the transformation.
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