Q: What is the difference between primary care and primary health care?
A: Primary care is essentially about care for sick or injured individuals based in the community. It is often based around medical care ('primary medical care') but may also involve allied health, nursing care or alternative therapies. Primary health care is broader in that can also deals with the determinants of health - environmental factors (air pollution), social factors (bullying at school), and individual factors (lack of health literacy) - and include a stronger focus on promoting health as well as preventing or treating illness (primary care sometimes involves interventions to prevent specific health problems - immunisation etc.) Primary health care often has stronger links to the community, since it is the communities' health problems (rather than just individual health problems) that are being addressed. Primary health care involves a more social view of health.
Q: Does it matter that these are often used interchangeably? If so, why?
A: The difference between them matters since primary health care recognises and addresses a broader range of health issues and contributing factors, has a wider range of strategies (more focus on prevention, education, community engagement and capacity building), involves a wider range of players (councils, education, welfare, community organisations as well has health services) and has a philosophy which recognises more easily the contribution which individuals and communities make to their health. If the terms are used interchangeably, then the 'extra' in primary health care is likely to be forgotten, or crowded out by the dominant primary care/primary medical care approach.
Family physicians are also encouraged to take new patients into their practices. A premium is available to physicians
when they enrol new patients. In order to claim this fee, the physician, in addition to formally enrolling the patient, must
co-sign with the patient a New Patient Declaration form.
Who Should be Invited to Enrol?
Physicians in a FHT who previously enrolled their patients while practicing in a Family Health Network, Primary Care
Network or other harmonized model do not need to re-enrol their patients. Patients enrolled to Family Health Group
physicians who are transitioning to a FHT do not need to re-enrol their patients.
All patients in the practice of a Family Health Team physician, regardless of their health status, must be invited to enrol,
provided they are not otherwise ineligible.
In order to enrol in a FHT, patients will complete the Patient Enrolment and Consent to Release Personal Health
Information form (the enrolment/consent form). Once the enrolment/consent form is completed, the physician
acknowledges it and sends it to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (the ministry) for processing.
It should be noted that enrolling is voluntary; patients are not required to enrol to continue receiving services, nor will
they be refused enrolment due to their health status or need for services.