January 27 2011
In 2004, the federal government committed to having 50% of Canadians treated by primary health care teams by 2011. While there is agreement that goal has not been met, there is some debate over what progress has been made to that goal.
A Statistics Canada study of 2008 showed 39% of Canadians 18 and older had access to a health care team (defined as access to a nurse or other health professional (for example, dietitian, nutritionist) or both at their medical doctor or regular place of care). This figure was just 17% for Canadians 65 years and older, which matches findings from a CARP member poll of May 2009, in which 16% of members report being cared for by a health team (Carp members are, on average, 68 years old).
A 2009 report by the Health Council of Canada was unable to say how many Canadians used health teams, but they quote the Canadian Survey of Experiences with Primary Health Care as reporting 32% of Canadians had access to more than one medical professional at their place of care. An Ontario College of Family Physicians report of 2011 projects that 25% of Ontarians will be enrolled in health team practices by 2012.
The National Physicians Survey of 2007 reported that 31% of family doctors had collaborative treatment practices.
The primary reason for health teams is to improve the treatment and management of chronic disease and to keep sufferers out of emergency wards. The Statistics Canada study of 2008 showed that 40% of Canadians 18 and older had at least one chronic disease, and this rises to 70% among those 65 and older. The CARP member survey of 2009 shows 75% of our members suffer from at least one chronic condition, and 40% suffer from two or more. The Health Council of Canada report of 2009 estimates that 30% of Canadians have at least one chronic condition of a list of seven (arthritis, cancer, COPD, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, mood disorders).