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April 27, 2014



The traditional family doctor was a swiss army knife. He delivered babies, made house calls, and performed surgery.

But the explosion of modern research has transformed this traditional role. An ever-deepening sea of medical knowledge now drowns individual doctors in data. Increasingly, generalists defer to specialists, and new sub-specialties surface regularly.

Today’s family doctor is a different swiss army knife. He is an educator, collaborator, and health care team coordinator.

He is also a connector. The gatekeeper to specialized services, he links patients to experts in various fields. But he must do so judiciously in order to distribute medical resources wisely and ensure timeous responses.

The traditional circle of care is now a Venn diagram of intersecting care. Your health is–now more than ever–a team sport.

So how does this process work in practice?

Firstly, the family doctor must draw on knowledge of local resources (or use provincial directories) to search for a suitable specialist.

My own practice makes use of the Lloydminster Primary Care Network (PCN). PCNs are a made-in-Alberta approach to improving access to and better coordinating care for patients across the province.”

The local PCN has a dedicated team of Referral Coordinators who arrange referrals on behalf of Alberta doctors.

The doctor sends a referral letter to the PCN which contains patient information such as: the reason for referral; the urgency of the referral; copies of test results; concurrent medical problems and current medications.

The PCN will coordinate with the specialist’s office.

Specialists triage all referral letters received, and decide which patients to see first. A response is then sent back to the PCN.

Finally, the PCN contacts the patient with preparation instructions, appointment dates, and anticipated appointment times.

Once your referral is in the queue, questions can be directed to the Lloydminster PCN at 780 874 0490.



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