Health minister wants improvements to Need a Family Practice registry

By Meghan Groff

The province wants to make improvements to its list of Nova Scotians needing a primary health care provider.

As of October 1, there were more than 116,000 people on the Need a Family Practice registry, which is a record high.

According to the latest figures from Nova Scotia Health, over the course of September, 7,425 new names were added and 1,881 were removed.

However, Health Minister Michelle Thompson said those numbers aren't as accurate as she'd like them to be.

“In fact at times when we are attaching people to a family practice — as we manually call people and contact time — they actually have already been attached to a provider and there's no automatic mechanism for them to come off [the list],” she told CityNews Halifax.

There are also a number of Nova Scotians without a family practice who haven't yet signed up. Thompson said this could be because they're not comfortable with the technology, they're not aware of the list, or they don't have any reason to see a doctor right now.

She would like to see software upgrades that would make the list more interactive with more accurate results.

“Is there opportunity for Nova Scotians to be able to see where they are on the list and whether or not they're able to update their health status so we can triage folks in a better or different way to make sure they're attached in a more timely fashion,” Thompson suggested.

She wants this to be part of a larger project to modernize digital platforms across the health care system.

“[Health care providers] have talked about the importance of having more real time opportunities to get data, talked about how our systems have not historically talked to one another,” Thompson said. “So this is part of a bigger picture.”

She said they're already looking at options for improvements, but she expects the solution will be complicated so don't expect a quick fix.

“But as long as these software can speak to one another we don't need to wait for everything to be perfect in order for us to move forward,” she added. 

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