WATCH: Calgary health officials say anyone who wants a doctor should be able to find one, marking a dramatic shift from a few years ago when physicians seemed to be in short supply. Heather Yourex reports.
CALGARY – If you’re having trouble finding a family doctor in and around Calgary, a new interactive website is trying to make it easier to find which health care professionals are accepting new patients. It’s also promising appointments “almost immediately.”
Alberta Health Services worked with seven local Primary Care Networks (PCNs) to create the free “Find a Doctor” site, which launched on Monday. You enter your location, and contact information results pop up for the doctor nearest you who is accepting patients. Then you call and make an appointment.
“I think it’s a terrific evolution,” said Calgary Foothills PCN Dr. Sarah Bates. “I have had some experience previously with the predecessors to this website, and they were a little more tricky to use.”
“There’s great research to show that being connected with a family physician helps people live longer and healthier lives.”
The website’s listings are updated at least once a month—typically once a week in urban areas. The seven Calgary-area PCNs serve patients in Calgary and surrounding communities including Airdrie, Okotoks, Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise.
“There’s a quicker turnaround than we’ve had before in terms of people being able to directly call the physician’s offices themselves, as opposed to putting their information in and waiting for a response from somebody,” said AHS senior operating officer Julie Kerr.
Kerr said there is “no wait” right now, and that appointments are available “almost immediately.” She said about 240 family physicians in the Calgary area are currently taking patients. Global News was able to make an appointment with a family doctor at a clinic within the Calgary Foothills PCN in eight days from now.
“The population continues to grow, but I think our growth in physician numbers is actually starting to catch up,” said Kerr. “We actually do have a number of physicians now who are able to take patients immediately.”
Kerr said the majority of doctors in the Calgary area are attached to PCNs, which were launched in the province in 2003 as a way to improve access to family doctors.
WATCH: From February 2007, Gary Bobrovitz takes a look at the doctor shortage in Calgary.
In 2010, the first PCN website was launched to connect people with family doctors, but after registering, some patients waited weeks or even months before a doctor was found. There are currently over 40 PCNs in Alberta, serving 3.2 million patients province-wide, including 1.1 million in the Calgary zone.
The new Find a Doctor service can also be accessed by calling Health Link at 811.
With files from Global’s Heather Yourex