By Mabell, Dave on December 19, 2019.
Lethbridge Herald – Taber
A southern Alberta success story is being praised as a model for change in the province’s health-care system.
The Taber Clinic, along with a family practice group in northwest Calgary, has been using an “alternative funding model” for nearly 20 years.
Now a new report from the Health Quality Council of Alberta offers new evidence about the value, cost and quality of care delivered by the two “primary care clinics.” While providing superior care, it says, they saved more than $114 million over the last 10 years.
“As primary health-care providers, we see tremendous benefit to practising in an alternate funding model, for our patients, ourselves and the health system in Taber,” says Dr. Andrea Hargrove, a partner with The Taber Clinic.
“We are pleased that the HQCA report confirms what we have experienced over the past 19 years,” she says. “The report shows the robust evidence for continuing this model of care.
“Our patients benefit from fewer hospital admissions and fewer, more comprehensive, timely clinic visits, from a full-functioning multi-disciplinary team.”
Twenty years ago, both the Taber clinic and the Crowfoot Village Family Practice clinic were authorized by Alberta health authorities to operate under an alternate funding model which pays health-care providers a “prospective amount” for care services provided to patients over a specific period of time – instead of the standard “fee-for-service” model used in other primary-care clinics in Alberta.
The report found the alternate funding model supported “the design and delivery of a team-based practice model that provides comprehensive, cost-effective care that provides downstream cost savings to the health system.”
In 2016-17, the two clinics saved $4.3 million and $7.2 million respectively, it said.
“Achieving these savings on a larger scale is not as simple as replicating the current funding agreements or the local conditions,” cautioned Andrew Neuner, the health council’s chief executive officer.
“A vital first step is to first develop a transparent, but adaptable funding model framework” before any new funding agreements are authorized.
That framework, he says, “must be in alignment with, and support the vision for, primary and community care, and be inclusive of the role of Primary Care Networks.”
But Dr. Trevor Theman, chair of the council’s board of directors, hopes the study will trigger change.
“Our findings corroborate the evidence published from other health systems, that investing in strong, team-based primary care results in better patient outcomes and lower overall health system costs,” he says.
“We are confident that our recommendation and considerations will move Alberta in the right direction if we are truly committed to transforming primary care delivery.”