Engaging Albertans on Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care System

Imagine Citizens Network (ICN) has been working with Albertans to capture what matters most to them about primary healthcare and share these insights with the Modernizing Alberta’s Primary Health Care System (MAPS) initiative. The goal is to identify immediate and long-term improvements that can build on Alberta’s many primary healthcare successes. 

ICN engaged with 32 Albertans from across the province to identify guiding principles that reflect people’s values regarding the redesign and delivery of primary care programs, services, and care. The engagement process began with an informational webinar designed to provide participants with background knowledge about Alberta’s primary healthcare system. Examples of other primary care system approaches nationally and internationally were shared, along with highlights of what ICN has learned through past citizen engagement processes. Next, three small-group online workshops focused on identifying principles, optimal experiences, activities, and desired outcomes that can contribute to the MAPS initiative. 

The resulting report captures what was heard during ICN’s discussions with Albertans. It highlights the people-centred guiding principles participants identified as most important to improving our primary healthcare system, along with participants’ examples of outcomes and activities that reflect the principles. Participants were keen to identify principles that reflect their values and can help steer the changes to our primary healthcare system. The identified principles are highly integrated and not mutually exclusive. 

Drawing on their lived experience, participants articulated 12 principles that reflect a people-centred approach. People-centred care consciously adopts the perspectives of individuals, caregivers, families, and communities as participants in and beneficiaries of trusted health systems that respond to their unique needs and preferences in humane and holistic ways. People-centred care considers the individual in the context of their life, their environment, their community, and social and socio-economic contexts. The principle of an inclusive primary healthcare system that treats all equitably was foundational and a key lens to view all principles. 

Participants shared their thoughts on how a system based on these principles would look and what patients and family members would experience that would be different. 

Overall, ICN’s engagement with Albertans has identified important guiding principles for primary healthcare system change that are rooted in the values and experiences of people who rely on the system. These principles will inform the MAPS initiative as it seeks to improve primary healthcare in Alberta. 

These principles are now being reviewed and we expect to share the final report with you in the near future.  

At the same time as this citizen engagement occurred, Alberta Health hosted an Innovation forum that gathered more than 115 stakeholders and community members to explore ideas for modernizing Alberta’s primary health care system.  Several ICN members participated. That report is available on the Alberta Health website.   

April 2023