Patients First Act: Opportunity to strengthen primary care

June 02, 2016

Government has taken a key step to move forward with its proposal for health care – the Patients First Act has been tabled in the legislature today. This legislation brings together all of the key health system players at a local level to focus on the unique health needs of people in communities across the province. Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), working with primary care, home and community care, public health and hospitals, will be better able to strengthen communication within the “circle of care” for patients. They’ll also be better positioned to distribute resources and monitor health system performance to ensure people get the appropriate care and support they need where and when they need it. AFHTO sees the potential enabled by this legislation. It creates the opportunity for much closer ties between primary care, home care and community services – a serious gap highlighted in a recent report from Health Quality Ontario. To really work, Patients First will have to go further to expand comprehensive team-based primary care. Evidence is increasingly showing that these primary care teams can provide the highest quality of care and reduce overall health system costs. Yet only 25% of Ontarians have access to these enhanced teams. This is not fair nor is it equitable. There is much work ahead to ensure implementation achieves optimal outcomes for Ontarians – patients, the underserved, and health providers. This work will also reinforce the need – and potentially reveal mechanisms – for investment to expand team-based primary care. For more information: