Changing course: The imperative for a new approach to primary health care and the community

Dear members of the Vitalité community,

A hidden storm, which had been brewing for many years, finally erupted with the trigger of the pandemic. Together, our ageing population, the growth in complexity of chronic illnesses, a system historically developed by specialities and fragmented by nature, as well as the departure of many health professionals formed the perfect storm. These symptoms and these realities are not just a moment in history, but rather a permanent paradigm shift that represents our new reality henceforth. A reality that requires transformation now and for the future.

More than ever, people need faster access to primary health care, while hospitals are desperately seeking to lower their volumes. Demographic realities, which are exerting increased pressure on the system, mean that we can no longer meet demand; the system and the delivery of care must therefore change.

It became apparent after studying best practices and evidence that a team-based approach is the solution: a team comprised of various practitioners such as physicians, nurses, social workers and many others who intervene at the right time based on the needs of the patient. Equally important to note is that in the many meetings with our family physicians, their request was clear: to be provided with an environment in which they can focus on medicine instead of administrative management.

After these consultations, Vitalité Health Network created several integrated care groups, using a collaborative co-building approach with each group. The components vary from one community to the next to reflect the local needs of each team. These teams are made up of various professionals and supported by their own referral group. In this new environment, which may be physical or virtual, a patient is guided by the referral group to the right service provider.

Individuals are assigned to an integrated group rather than a single physician. The administrative support team manages operations, thereby letting the health professionals optimize what they do best: provide care.

The end of 2023 and start of 2024 represent our pilot phase and we hope to obtain the necessary support to deploy this approach throughout the Network, in collaboration with the Department of Health and other partners. This approach will provide access in five days, increase the number of individuals receiving care and ensure follow-up for our patients with chronic illnesses. In the spirit of a learning program, we believe that this model will be able to integrate several other services and community collaborations.

The time for a shift is now; we understand the urgent need for action. With the deployment of this integrated model, we will be ready to face the challenge of primary health care for our current and future generations.

Patrick Parent
Assistant CEO, Strategic Execution, and Senior Vice-President, Client Programs and Professional Services


The “Voice of Our Leaders,” the blog of Vitalité Health Network’s Leadership Team, covers various topics related to transformation of the health system. The team members share their thoughts – transparently and from their own perspectives – on the issues, challenges and priorities within their areas of responsibility and the health system as a whole.  Happy reading and happy reflection!

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