Researchers from the Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) have found considerable variations in primary health care needs and delivery across Ontario — and the areas with the highest needs, including northern Ontario and large cities like Toronto, tend to receive the lowest level of care.
The new report "Geographic Variation in Primary Care Need, Service Use and Providers in Ontario 2015/16" outlines how seniors, recent immigrants and people with low incomes have the most unmet needs for primary care.
Rural areas had more senior residents and higher levels of disability, the report found. Although rural residents had greater access to team-based care, there were relatively fewer family doctors serving them.
"We hope that the patterns, variations and gaps in care found in this report help to inform policy and planning," says Dr. Rick Glazier, lead author of the report, a scientist at the Centre for Urban Health Solutions and ICES, and a family physician at St. Michael's Hospital.
The report provides information to help Ontario's 14 Local Health Integration Networks fulfill their responsibilities for primary care planning. Data for each of the province's 76 LHIN sub-regions and Toronto's 140 neighbourhoods are mapped in categories including primary care need, primary care service use, primary care providers and teams, cross-LHIN care and gaps in care.