The Family Practice Services Committee (FPSC) is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year following a series of programs and initiatives that have changed the way patient care is provided across the province.
FPSC – formerly the General Practices Services Committee – began in 2003 as a trial project bringing the medical association and the government together to improve patient care and draw more physicians to family practice amid concerns of low pay, morale, and job dissatisfaction.
“The committee was established at a time when family practice was in real crisis; there were declining numbers of doctors in family practice and there was a lot of unrest in the family physician world,” says Dr Brenda Hefford, Vice President, Physician Affairs & Community Practice at Doctors of BC, who works closely with FPSC. “This was an innovative response to that issue.”
The committee, comprised of members from Doctors of BC, and the Ministry of Health, with health authority partners, is now an essential part of the primary care system, says Dr Hefford. Over the past two decades, it has worked together to address four priorities voiced by family doctors: value us, pay us, train us, and support us.
The committee’s first order of business was to develop new incentive payments to reward family doctors providing longitudinal care. “With the majority of doctors paid under a fee-for-service model, care that is delivered over time was not well supported,” says Dr Hefford.
The work quickly evolved with a series of programs and initiatives that included developing FPSC’s Practice Support Program, introducing the Divisions of Family Practice, launching programs to support maternity, long- term care, and in-patient care, adopting the attributes of the Patient Medical Home, and, five years ago, supporting the concept of Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and team-based care.
Broader provincial initiatives were also brought in by the province, including the A GP for Me initiative, to connect patients with doctors, and, in early 2023, the Longitudinal Family Physician (LFP) Payment Model, an alternative to the fee-for-service model.
While the LFP Payment Model was not an FPSC initiative, Dr Hefford says it speaks to the strong collaborative foundation between Doctors of BC and the Ministry of Health to address ongoing needs on a timely basis.
“FPSC is now seen as the main collaborative table for primary care transformation in the province and much of the work done is really focused on the support of physicians collectively through the Divisions of Family Practice and the Primary Care Networks,” she says, noting other provinces are looking to emulate the model. “What we have in BC is extremely unique.”
Dr Hefford acknowledges more work needs to be done, especially as the health care system remains under stress – and FPSC should play a central role.
“There is an ongoing creative tension between the divisions’ ability to support the specific needs of their members and community and at the same time aligning with the provincial directions and initiatives coming from Ministry of Health and FPSC,” says Dr Hefford. Both are fundamentally important.
“FPSC is the ideal table to be the strategic lead for primary care in the province and really work to help to bring all these pieces together,” she says, “not only in the use of its own resources but also as a facilitative table for a broader system as a whole.”