Evidence of Value

External evaluation report on family health teams is now available

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has released the report: An External Evaluation of the Family Health Teams (FHT) Initiative. It is a longitudinal study over the period from Dec. 2008 to November 2013, prepared by the Conference Board of Canada under contract to the ministry. AFHTO has prepared a summary of this 311-page report. The FHT evaluation report shows clear evidence of improvement over the study period, 2009-2012:

  • Patient survey data suggests the ability to get same-day appointments in FHTs ranks among the best in the world for primary care. 79% of patients reported they could get a same day appointment. This compares to 40% for Ontario (and 72% for top-performing Germany) in Health Quality Ontario’s Measuring Up report
  • FHTs are offering a wider range of programs and services to promote health and manage chronic disease. Interprofessional teams make it possible to bring together the variety of skills needed to help people stay as healthy as possible

AFHTO welcomes this release. The FHT evaluation report provides further evidence and direction for the Ministry, AFHTO, FHTs and other primary care organizations together with their associations, on what is needed to continue to improve. We have better understanding of factors that have improved patient experience in accessing care, including strong leadership, team culture, use of patient data, and provider involvement in quality improvement activities.

The most notable findings indicate that staff make the biggest difference to patient experience; however recruitment and retention of staff is particularly challenging. The FHT evaluation report’s findings reinforce those of previous AFHTO reports – below-market compensation is a problem; adequate funding is needed to solve it.

Improvement continues. Since August 2013, this has been greatly assisted through government funding for Quality Improvement Decision Support (QIDS) Specialists and AFHTO’s provincial QIDS and Governance + Leadership programs. The AFHTO membership is advancing to achieve optimal quality, access and total cost of care, in line with public and patient expectations.

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