Patients’ experience with family doctor availability

How patients rated the availability of their family doctor over the past 12 months. (see data dictionary)

What do you think?

  • How would you rate your family doctor’s availability compared to what was reported by other Albertans?
  • What might your doctor, or their clinic, do to ensure they are available when it’s convenient to you?

Understanding “family doctor availability”

In a survey conducted October 2018 to January 2019, the HQCA asked patients who recently visited their doctor:

  • In the last 12 months, how would you rate the availability of your doctor?

Patients could choose “excellent / very good / good / fair / poor”.

Patient experience is likely better if patients are able to book an appointment with their doctor when they need to.

Considerations when viewing the results

As primary care providers work to develop a better understanding of how they could improve this rating, other questions can be asked, such as:

  • Can patients get an appointment when they need to? This refers not only to urgent requests, but also requests based on what works best for the patient. To learn more about how consistently a patient visits the same family doctor, view the doctor continuity results.
  • What is the process for handling urgent requests? Are same-day appointments available?
  • If the patient’s family doctor is not unavailable, can the patient get an appointment with another family doctor at the same clinic to help maintain the patient’s relationship with their family doctor? To learn more about how consistently a patient visits the same clinic, view the clinic continuity results.
  • What is the doctor’s third next available appointment? The “third next available” appointment is a more useful indicator rather than “next available” as it is a more sensitive reflection of appointment availability. The “next available” might be capturing an unexpected cancellation in the schedule. To further understand third next available appointments visit the Access Improvement Measures (AIM) site.
  • Does the number of patients the family doctor has (demand) match the available time needed to see those patients (supply)? To learn more about supply and demand visit the AIM site. To learn more about access to primary care services and the choices that patients make about where to seek medical care on short notice, view the emergency department visits for minor conditions results.
  • Are alternative hours and alternate visit types available, such as telephone or email, if doctor office hours do not align with patient availability? To learn more, view the percentage of family doctor visits that were done using another visit type, such as telephone or email.

For information about the HQCA’s patient experience surveys offered to individual clinics in Alberta, please visit the HQCA website.

The Health Quality Council of Alberta uses the Alberta Quality Matrix for Health as a way of organizing information and thinking around the complexity of the healthcare system. The information in this chart can be used as input to think and have conversations about primary healthcare in Alberta using the lens of the dimensions of quality shown on the right:

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Dimensions of Quality

  • Acceptability
  • Accessibility
  • Appropriateness
  • Effectiveness
  • Efficiency
  • Safety