In 2003, Alberta Health (formerly Alberta Health and Wellness), the Alberta Medical Association and Alberta's Regional Health Authorities (now Alberta Health Services) established the Primary Care Initiative (PCI) to improve access to family physicians and other frontline health care providers in Alberta. The purpose of the PCI is to develop Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and support them in meeting the objectives of the program.
Today, there are 40 PCNs operating throughout Alberta with more in development. More than 2500 family physicians in Alberta are working in PCNs.
Primary care is the first point of contact a person has with the health system – the point where people receive care for most of their everyday health needs. Primary care is typically provided by family physicians, nurses, dietitians, mental health professionals, pharmacists, therapists, and others.
Primary care includes the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of various health conditions. It also includes referrals to specialists and diagnostic services such as laboratory tests or X-rays.
In a Primary Care Network (PCN), a group of family doctors and Alberta Health Services coordinate health services for patients.
A PCN can be comprised of one clinic with many physicians and support staff, or several physicians in several clinics across a health region. Each network has the flexibility to develop programs and to provide services in a way that works locally to meet the specific needs of patients.
For example, depending on the need, a network might decide to strengthen the communication between the physicians and home care nurses by working together in a new way. Or, another network may set up a palliative care program with a team of family doctors and health care professionals to look after patients.
Each network determines how to best meet the needs of patients in the area while working within the provincial PCI framework. In networks, other health care professionals work closely with family doctors to enhance primary health services for patients.
Primary Care Networks Work 4 You
This fact sheet will help Albertans better understand what Primary Care Networks are and how they are improving access to, and better coordinating, primary care services.
Please note: The Primary Care Initiative (PCI) does not provide health services. The purpose of the PCI is to improve access to family physicians and other frontline health care providers in Alberta by developing Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and supporting them in meeting the objectives of the program.
We are unable to respond to specific clinical or medical questions. If this is a medical emergency, call 911. For health advice or information about health services in your area, call Health Link Alberta toll-free at 1-866-408-LINK (5465). To locate a primary care physician (family physician), use the Find a Physician tool provided by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta.
PCNs in Alberta