About Primary Health Care

The Shift to Team-Based Primary Health Care in BC

The concept of team-based primary health care has been around for decades. While not a new idea, it’s a model of health care delivery that’s being embraced and adopted by the BC Provincial Government. It’s a model that recognizes the patient and their families as integral members of a team of care providers.

The promise and benefits of team-based primary health care

Primary health care is organized around the needs of the patient, offers patients a regular primary point of contact, and is an entry point into the health care system.

Team-based primary health care promises the patient effective, accessible, timely and equitable health care as well as:

  • timely and consistent access to quality primary care and urgent care closer to home
  • a patient-centered experience, with seamless access to the appropriate services and supports in the community
  • increased support for those with complex and/or chronic health conditions
  • improved care for priority populations including maternity patients, the frail elderly, and those living with mental health conditions and addictions
  • enhanced end-of-life care
  • culturally safe and equitable care for those who are racialized or marginalized

On a broader scale, this approach to health care delivery has been shown to contribute to the overall health of our population, better health outcomes, and improved job satisfaction and retention of health care providers.

For the health care system, team-based primary health care can be delivered at a lower cost, which contributes to the sustainability of our system. By giving patients access to a consistent and available point of contact, they can avoid visits to hospitals’ emergency rooms and to walk-in clinics.

A new way to deliver health care

Team-based primary health care delivery is built on formalized teams of health care providers. Teams may or may not be co-located, and are often organized locally through various partnerships of doctors, divisions of family practice, health authorities, community partners and the Ministry of Health.

For many health care professionals, this shift to formalized team-based care will be a new way of collaborating and working together. Delivering care efficiently and effectively under this model requires a deeper knowledge and appreciation of team-based dynamics, leadership skills, and policies and processes.

If we are going to achieve the ultimate aim of truly patient-centered team-based primary care, we need to nurture and educate health care professionals who can champion that model of care in their practice.

– Christie Newton, CCFP, FCFP, Associate Professor and Associate Head Education and Engagement, UBC Faculty of Medicine Department of Family Practice

The case for team-based primary health care education

Delivering health care services as a team requires a collective appreciation for the team’s talents and assets, resources and policies, and an understanding of the needs and context of the community.

Understanding team dynamics, developing an appreciation of other health care providers and cultivating self-management and personal leadership practices all contribute to the success of a team.

While these primary health care principles and practices are taught in some curricula, content isn’t presented in a substantive way.

The Graduate Certificate in Primary Health Care offers health care professionals an opportunity to engage in a rigorous and interactive program with a cohort of peers. By the end of the program, learners can expect to gain skills, insights and perspectives that they can apply in their own context and careers.

Learners benefit from courses and curricula built on evidence-based practices with input from an interprofessional advisory committee of health care professionals.


Learn more about primary health care here in BC and the research that is being done on the practice.

The Primary Health Care Charter (PDF)
BC Ministry of Health, 2016

General Practices Services Committee – System Change

General Practices Services Committee – Stories

Primary Health Care Teams and Their Impact on Processes and Outcomes of Care (PDF)
Saeeda Khan, Cameron McIntosh, Claudia Sanmartin, Diane Watson, Kira Leeb
Statistics Canada, Health Information and Research Division, 2008

The 10 Building Blocks of High-Performing Primary Care
Thomas Bodenheimer, Amireh Ghorob, Rachel Willard-Grace and Kevin Grumbach
The Annals of Family Medicine March 2014, 12 (2) 166-171

Primary Care Transformation in British: Columbia: A New Model to Integrate Nurse Practitioners
British Columbia Nurse Practitioner Association