Looking to address a gap in the availability of doctors and nurse practitioners, the province has announced it will expand a provincewide registry that looks to connect primary-care providers with BC residents seeking to access them.

Effective July 1, 2023, the province expanded the Health Connect Registry from a pilot project available in select communities only, to all communities throughout B.C. The registry is hosted by HealthLinkBC, and offers patients seeking care the opportunity to input their information and be matched with a medical professional. 

The province said in a recent press release that the expansion of the registry, along with physician and nursing recruitment and retention strategies, will allow more British Columbians to access care. 

“The Health Connect Registry is a crucial action, delivering on our government’s commitment to strengthen health care, and it will help us provide better, easier access to primary care for generations to come,” said Adrian Dix, the province’ minister of health.

“Between the new doctors who signed up with our new-to-practice incentive program, doctors who are joining the new payment model, as well as new nurse practitioners and the many more to come, we are ensuring people throughout the province can connect with those primary-care providers and others as medical professionals enter family practice and build their patient panel.”

The release added that a part of the province’s overall healthcare human resources strategy was working directly with Doctors of BC, and Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC to support family doctors and nurse practitioners with new registries, including the Health Connect Registry. 

Both organizations voiced their support for the expansion of the registry.

“With the ongoing work to make family medicine sustainable, including implementing the longitudinal family physician model, there is now a need to help doctors and patients navigate getting access to care,” said Dr. Joshua Greggain, president of Doctors of BC.

“The improved Health Connect Registry will make things easier and faster for patients and more efficient for doctors and other health-care providers, while being flexible to ensure the best outcome for everyone – a strong long-term family doctor/patient relationship.”

The new expansion means the province will have a comprehensive list of who is looking for a primary-care provider and who already has one, as well as which providers and clinics are currently accepting new patients.

Along with the announcement of the expansion came a commitment by the province to report on progress to add more family doctors and nurse practitioners, and on connecting more patients from the Health Connect Registry to a primary-care provider, beginning November 30, 2023, and continuing quarterly.

For more information on the Health Connect Registry, visit HealthLinkBC.