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Partnering with communities towards better health outcomes

One of our key goals at Alberta Health Services (AHS) is to help initiate change that will mean even better health outcomes for Albertans. In partnership with Alberta Health, we’ve looked to Albertans to help us reach that goal by talking about what healthcare could or should look like in 15 years. We have met with various community representatives, physicians, care providers, and other health partners. By listening to what people see for the future, we can work together to plan and provide appropriate services that make the most sense for the community, while taking into account affordability.

I believe our healthcare system can achieve better patient outcomes.  We need to build on what’s working well today and, in some ways, also change the way we provide services. That will involve a great deal of work and a shift in accountabilities.  Part of the solution might be partnering with communities in new and different ways.

Here are a few examples of areas for future improvement:

  • AHS has a longer average length of hospital stay for patients compared to BC. The average length of stay in Alberta is 6.14 days, and 5.84 days for patients in B.C. We could work towards reducing the length of stay for patients.
  • More acute beds are being used by patients who could be in non-hospital settings such as a long term care facilities or in their own homes with the support of Home Care and other community services
  • Projections show that by 2025, the number of seniors will grow from 10% to 18% of the population, many of whom suffer from chronic illnesses

So, how do we accomplish this shift to more care in the community? One possible answer is to continue to build capacity in our Primary Care Networks (PCNs). A PCN is a joint venture between a group of doctors and AHS.  Each PCN supports its member physicians to deliver interdisciplinary team-based care with providers such as nurses, dietitians and pharmacists that work together to serve their panels of patients.

Providing care in the community means we’re able to serve a larger portion of the population closer to home, it’s typically easier for patients to access, and it’s less costly.

If we shift more resources to community and improve primary healthcare, we can also provide services that respond to people’s preferences and are co-ordinated around their needs.