Rural and Remote Physician Services Coordination in Northern Ontario


Rural and Remote Physician Services Coordination in Northern Ontario: A Brief Discussion Paper on the Model from British Columbia

January 2024 | Bryanne de Castro Rocha

Northern Ontario residents (rural and urban) suffer from worse health outcomes than their counterparts in the rest of the province. These residents also have more precarious access to primary and emergency care. Much of this inequity is due to difficulties in attracting and retaining physicians. One of the main reasons why some physicians are reluctant to practice in rural and remote communities in Northern Ontario is their limited connection to peers and specialists. This restricts their ability to consult others, get second opinions, and obtain patient support on complex cases.

The Rural Coordination Centre of British Columbia (RCCbc), however, offers an alternative model that has been proven to ease the pressure on rural and northern health systems by attracting and retaining more physicians and healthcare workers. The organization has improved working conditions for physicians in regions and circumstances similar to Northern Ontario's.

An organization based on the RCCbc model could provide similar support to physicians and healthcare professionals in Northern Ontario. The Ontario Physician Services Agreement is not a barrier to establishing and funding such an organization. Still, such a change does depend on negotiations between the Ontario Medical Association and the provincial government. Those two groups would have to agree to allocate some resources from the Ontario Physician Services Agreement to this new organization.

Embracing lessons learned from locations similar to Northern Ontario could make significant improvements in healthcare coordination, ultimately enhancing care delivery and health outcomes.


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    Related Research:

    Slapping a Bandage on Health Care: The State of Physician Recruitment in Northern Ontario

    The Impact of COVID-19 on the Economy of Northern Ontario

    Northern Ontario Circular Economy Symposium: Health Innovation

    Integration of Care in Northern Ontario: Patient Medical Homes, Rural Health Hubs and Evolving Ontario Health Teams

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