Healthcare Quarterly

Healthcare Quarterly 9(3) May 2006 : 56-59.doi:10.12927/hcq..18177
Ideas at Work

Improving Linkages Between Family Physicians and Hospitals

Sheryl Farrar, Don Collins-Williams and June Kingston


In many Canadian rural and urban areas, the role of the family physician within hospitals has gradually diminished over the past 30 years. In Canada, approximately 34.5% of family physicians provide in-hospital care for their patients (College of Family Physicians of Canada 2003). This corresponds with 29% of Ontario respondents (College of Family Physicians of Canada 2003). While the availability of family physicians to meet demands to provide hospital in-patient care is one main issue, choosing a more flexible lifestyle and increasingly busy community practices are also reasons that keep family physicians from this aspect of care.  

Family physicians define their individual scope of practice on the basis of community needs and their own interests in medicine (Rosser 2002). This may not include hospital in-patient care. If provision of this care is the only formal connection between family physicians and hospitals, the opportunity for rich partnerships, community leadership and innovative activity will be lost. Whether or not family physicians feel that their methods of practice can include participating in hospital in-patient care, community-based family physicians and hospitals would benefit from mutual support and collaboration in our changing healthcare system. Hospitals, as social pillars and hubs of medical activity, can be a great influence and supporter of family physicians and primary healthcare, which will in turn improve the health of their communities.  

This paper will discuss general linkages between family physicians and hospitals and the development of a specific program to enhance these linkages created at a large community hospital in Ontario.  



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