​Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network
primary care team members and patient

Dr. Jaco Kruger's first experience working in a clinic with health teams came when he moved to Alberta. After working as a family doctor in three countries without that in-clinic support, Dr. Kruger says health teams vastly improve patient's care. "It is such an asset to how we (family doctors) can practice," he says. "It really channels your treatment approach into an evidence-based practice and offers more comprehensive care."

1. Health Teams = Better Health Care

Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network has 54 health team members, including clinical pharmacistsregistered dietitianshealth management nursesbehavioural health consultants (BHCs) and certified respiratory educators. They operate in 96.3 per cent of member clinics.

Dr. Kruger says having a BHC in the office helps limit the number of patients who are prescribed medications to cope with mental health problems. "Issues such as anxiety and panic disorder really respond well to a few sessions of cognitive therapy with a BHC," Dr. Kruger says. "Most people don't need medication for these problems, but if you don't have a mental health professional to refer patients to, there may be no other choice."

2. Real-Time Care

Health teams also promote real-time care, Dr. Kruger says. A patient with diabetes who needs an insulin start can often be seen by a clinical pharmacist or health management nurse on the same day. "Being able to do these things in almost real time is amazing," Dr. Kruger says. "It makes my life easier and it makes the patient's life easier."

Patients also value talking to a clinical pharmacist about medications, including the options available and potential adverse reactions. "Most patients feel they do learn a lot and it helps them make better decisions," Dr. Kruger says. "They see it as an extension of our care, like we are a one-stop shop."

This story first appeared on the Calgary Foothills PCN website. To learn more please go to www.cfpcn.ca.