Source: Unsplash; Copyright: Sylwia Bartyzel; License: Licensed by JMIR journal

Finding 1239 primary care clinics using license registry algorithm

Some Canadians have limited access to longitudinal primary care, despite its known advantages for population health. Current initiatives to transform primary care aim to increase access to primary care clinics.

However, many regions lack a reliable method to enumerate clinics, limiting estimates of clinical capacity, and ongoing access gaps. A region-based complete clinic list is needed to effectively describe clinic characteristics, and to compare primary care outcomes at the clinic level.

How did we find the clinics?

We wanted to show how publicly available data sources, including the provincial physician license registry, can be used to generate a verifiable, region-wide list of primary care clinics in British Columbia, Canada, using a process named the Clinic List Algorithm (CLA).

The Algorithm has 10 steps: (1) collect data sets, (2) develop clinic inclusion and exclusion criteria, (3) process data sets, (4) consolidate data sets, (5) transform from list of physicians to initial list of clinics, (6) add additional metadata, (7) create working lists, (8) verify working lists, (9) consolidate working lists, and (10) adjust processing steps based on learnings.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia Registry contained 13,726 physicians, at 2915 unique addresses, 6942 (50.58%) of whom were family physicians (FPs) licensed to practice in British Columbia. The CLA identified 1239 addresses where primary care was delivered by 4262 (61.39%) physicians. Of the included addresses, 84.50% (n=1047) were in urban locations, and there was a median of 2 (IQR 2-4, range 1-23) physicians at each unique address.

Why is finding primary care clinics important?

The Algorithm provides a region-wide description of primary care clinics that improves on simple counts of primary care providers or self-report lists. It identifies the number and location of primary care clinics and excludes primary care providers who are likely not providing community-based primary care. Such information may be useful for estimates of capacity of primary care, as well as for policy planning and research in regions engaged in primary care evaluation or transformation.

Dr McCracken tweeted about the paper on June 22nd:

The Map

We used the clinic list to map out where primary care clinics are in BC & linked it to other population data. The map is still rough, but shows you the power it could have:

Source: Cooper, IR., Lindsay, C., Fraser, K., Hill, TF., Siu, A., Fletcher, S., Klimas, J., Hamilton, MA., Frazer, AD., Humphrys, E., Koepke, K., Hedden, L., Price, M., McCracken, RK. (2022) Finding Primary Care: An open-source algorithm repurposing physician registration data to generate a regionally accurate list of primary care clinics. JMIR Formative Research 6(6), e34141

Article first published on LinkedIn

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