The experience of primary care teams during the early phase of COVID-19: A qualitative study of primary care practice leaders in Ontario, Canada
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a rapid shift to virtual care in primary care practices around the globe. There has been little focus on the experiences of interprofessional teams through the lens of primary care practice leaders. The objective of this study was to examine the experience of primary care teams during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspective of primary care leadership.
Qualitative study using qualitative description methods. Executive Directors of interprofessional primary care teams belonging to the Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario (AFHTO) were invited to participate. Executive Directors were interviewed and the interview transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis.
Seventy-one Executive Directors from across all regions of Ontario were interviewed for the study, representing 37% of the AFHTO member clinics. Four themes were identified in the data: i) Complexities of Virtual Care, ii) Continuation of In-person Care, iii) Supporting Patients at Risk, and iv) Stepping up and into New Roles.
Primary care teams rapidly mobilized to deliver the majority of their care virtually, while continuing to provide in-person and home care as required. Major challenges to virtual care included technological infrastructure and unfamiliarity with virtual platforms. Advantages to virtual care included convenience and time savings. Virtual care will likely continue to be an important mode of primary care delivery moving forward.
- Dr. Catherine Donnelly, Queen’s University
- Christine Mills, Queen’s University
- Sandeep Gill, Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario
- Kavita Mehta, Association of Family Health Teams of Ontario
- Dr. Rachelle Ashcroft, University of Toronto