Pulse on Family Medicine - July 2015

We Are Better Together

There is no shortage of people knocking on the family physician’s door with asks, things that we need to change, new ways to practice or treat our patients.

Working in primary care with a variety of interprofessional providers, not to mention their professional organizations and Colleges, has the potential for duplication, overlapping roles and confusion about who does what. However, it also affords a great opportunity to effectively collaborate and partner. There is a lot written about working in teams in health care and the value of partnerships in business. The old adage of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts holds true. Most of us do this every day without thinking about it - whether with colleagues down the hall or our community, with a nurse or administrator, or through our formal and informal networks of other health-care providers we call on when we need support for our patients.

When the OCFP developed its Strategic Plan for 2014-2017, the Board of Directors spent time developing the mission, vision and values for the College. We wanted to ensure we really thought about our ‘north star’ and what would guide our work and define how the OCFP interacts with the myriad organizations in primary care. One o​f our values we included says, “We value proactive leadership and collaboration with partners to advance family medicine.” When we came up with these values it was critical to understand how th​ey would look in practice. What would it mean to be proactive and collaborate with others to advance our profession?

In this second year of implementing the strategic plan we have real examples of collaboration in action.  We recently signed two agreements to work with other organizations in primary care in practical and useful ways. The first agreement is with the Ontario Medical Association and the second is with the 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). 

Recognizing that the OCFP and the OMA share many common goals, and a shared membership of family physicians, the two organizations agreed to identify areas to work together. It is also a time of significant change in primary care and family medicine, so working together is important for family doctors. As organizations that represent the voices of physicians in Ontario with different and complementary programs and services, we have the opportunity to leverage and maximize each other’s resources. We are both committed to shared work that will benefit our respective members and promote greater alignment and coordination in primary care. Our new Collaboration Agreement with the OMA builds on our existing relationship to work towards common goals that will benefit members, our practices, and the health-care system in Ontario. The OMA and the OCFP identified the following areas of focus:

  1. Education and Practice Support
  2. Communication and Outreach

Within each of these priority areas are initiatives such as practice-related education for family physicians in their First Five Years of practice, helping to streamline CPD accreditation, leveraging each organizations’ tools and resources, and increasing awareness among family physicians about various programs available to them.

Similar conversations took place with the LHIN CEOs and Primary Care Physician LHIN Leads (PCPLLs). In 2014, then OCFP President Dr. Jonathan Kerr and OCFP CEO Jessica Hill met with the LHIN CEOs and PCPLLs of the LHINs and discussed the importance of the LHINs in primary care planning and implementation. We agreed that working with each other could lead to greater coordination, alignment and adoption of initiatives for family physicians that would reduce duplication and support scalability and sustainability. This partnership makes good sense. With the LHINs playing a key planning role in regions and funding integrated systems of care, teaming up can improve how we think about the population of patients we provide care for in our practices and in our regions. To confirm that the OCFP and the LHINs were in agreement about our common goals, we developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Signed in late June the MOU focuses on these goals:

  • Collaborate on initiatives and activities for family physicians and primary care physician providers to improve coordination and alignment
  • Improve opportunities to shape the development and implementation of initiatives
  • Reflect shared family medicine and primary care perspectives at various provincial and regional planning tables
  • Identify issues in primary care that would benefit from greater coordination.

The OCFP is excited to work with the Ontario Medical Association, the Section on General and Family Practice, the 14 LHIN CEOs and the PCPLLs to ensure that primary care policies, initiatives, education and practice supports are informed, developed and supported with and by family physicians. These two agreements represent a significant opportunity to support our membership through partnerships. I look forward to sharing our success stories once work is underway. I’m not sure we can promise that people won’t keep knocking on your door, but hopefully you’ll hear more consistent messages and that the OCFP can provide support and help connect the dots. If you want to know more about what we are doing, please contact me at newsletter_OCFP@cfpc.ca.

Cathy Faulds
OCFP President