Northern BC is a large, sparsely populated area served by health professionals which are concentrated in the communities dotted throughout. Prince George has the greatest array of health services in the North but it is far from many of the communities. Northern BC residents are frequently challenged in accessing health services and, at times, forgo services due to the inconvenience, expense and/or risks associated with accessing care.
It is the mission of Northern Partners in Care (NPiC) to seek out, develop and implement processes and infrastructures that improve the effectiveness of the relationships between general practitioners and specialists in order to improve the access and quality of health services in northern British Columbia. Their vision is to see GPs in Northern BC work effectively with their specialist colleagues and others to optimize access to high quality medical care.
This support is embodied in a range of projects aimed at enhancing communication through such means as telephone, email, videoconferencing, site visits, and a variety of other initiatives. A major element is the RACE line (Rapid Access to Clinical Expertise), which connects family doctors with specialists across a range of disciplines.
The enhanced relationships being developed have a number of benefits including:
- Increasing the capacity of family physicians to provide care to patients with complex needs;
- Improving real time continuing professional development for family physicians and education for specialists regarding the role and context of family practice and enhanced GP/Specialist relationships, and
- More effective working relationships between physicians and other health system partners.
NPiC is also supporting three information technology initiatives – development of an electronic shared care plan, secure messaging, and enhanced ability to use mobile electronic devices – as part of our work.
NPiC is funded by the Shared Care Committee which is comprised of members from Doctors of BC and the Ministry of Health. It is directly supported by the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine and the University of Northern British Columbia. NPiC works closely with other health system partners including Northern Health and the BC Cancer Agency. Our work would not be possible without the active engagement of Generalist and Specialist physicians and citizens of Northern BC.
NPiC also has a formal partnerships established with the Northern Interior Rural Division of Family Practice to collaboratively work on joint projects that meet both organizations’ mission and vision.