The province has announced a change to the Need a Family Practice Registry intended to help Nova Scotians in greatest need of a primary health care provider find one sooner.

On Thursday, Michelle Thompson, Minister of Health and Wellness, said effective immediately, anyone on the province’s Need a Family Practice Registry can add health information to their profile. The information will be used “to direct them to services, resources, and care options in their community,” according to a news release.

The health profiles will also help support a new incentive for family doctors with an office-based practice and assist with matching patients in greatest need with a family doctor sooner.

Under the new incentive, eligible physicians who accept 50 patients with higher needs from the registry receive $10,000. For every additional patient accepted, they receive $200.

The incentive is available to family doctors between July 1 and Oct. 31. Patients must be registered with the practice or have a first appointment scheduled by Dec. 31.

“Triaging patients based on medical conditions adds a much-needed nuance to the Need a Family Practice Registry that will help those on the list who have the most urgent need have access sooner,”  Doctors Nova Scotia president Dr. Colin Audain said in the release. 

“Ultimately, the solution lies in retaining and recruiting more family doctors to quarterback the care of Nova Scotians.”

The latest provincial data shows that as of June 1, there are 148,431 Nova Scotians without a primary care provider on the Need a Family Practice Registry. 

Adding health information is voluntary

According to the province, how people on the registry are matched with a primary care provider outside of the physician incentive doesn’t change. The registry will continue to be organized by community and people listed in chronological order based on when they registered.

Adding health information to the registry is voluntary, and will now be part of the sign-up process. Those currently on the list will be contacted by Nova Scotia Health (NSH) by email, letter, or phone, and encouraged to update their health profile. 

Profiles can be updated online or by calling 1-833-941-0040.

The province said the information will only be used and shared to help find a family practice and to identify services best matching people’s needs. Information collected, used, or shared will follow the Personal Health Information Act. 

Coming just weeks after the province announced the MOVEit cybersecurity breach, the release also noted that health information “will be handled and stored locally and securely to protect it from unauthorized access or disclosure.”

According to the province, about 800 family doctors in Nova Scotia have an office-based medicine practice. 

Yvette d’Entremont is a bilingual (English/French) journalist and editor who enjoys covering health, science, research, and education.

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  1. I fail to see how adding 50 patients to a family doctor’s already over-worked practice is going to help Nova Scotians get the health care they need. It demonstrates a desire to pretend to be doing something while waiting for the collapse that will bring full privatization. If nurse practitioners or physician assistants can lighten the work load then train, hire, them. pay them enough to retain them, and put them in community clinics led by physicians. None of this will happen because the Conservative government is hell-bent to privatize health care with insurance companies or patients paying a big part, if not all, of the cost.

  2. Family docs have identified that 70-80% of what they see daily could be handled well by a specially trained nurse working at their practice or clinic.So, does the solution really lie,as claimed in this article, with “retaining and recruiting more family doctors”?This financial incentive is going to be offered to family medicine practitioners who already struggle to have some sort of life outside of work. Is it, then, a work-around that will not have any significant benefit?

    1. It will be described as another tool in the toolbox. And that is exactly what it is … it will benefit some and that is useful. I want to see the government really take on poverty … there is no reason incremental change couldn’t happen to bring about good outcomes on that problem.