November 30, 2023

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How will Alberta’s new health care system work?

The currently overarching Alberta Health Services will have a new mission focused on delivering strong acute care.

Here’s a breakdown of each of those four agencies that will be gradually activated in 2024.

1. PRIMARY CARE Family doctors, nurse practitioners

The primary care agency will provide transparent provincial oversight to primary care services such as family doctors, the government says.

What are the agency’s goals?

The government aims to have every Albertan attached to a primary care provider such as a family doctor or a nurse practitioner. The primary care agency would work to make sure Albertans have timely access to high quality care service no matter where they live.

It also wants to support an integrated team of health professionals to comprehensive primary care, including pharmacists, therapists, and other providers that have appropriate access to patient health information.

2. ACUTE CARE Emergency services, clinics

The acute care agency will oversee delivery of acute care, clinical operations and emergency medical services. This agency is also the new home of AHS, Covenant Health and chartered surgical facilities, the government says.

What are the agency’s goals?

The acute care division will aim to shorten wait times for the emergency department, getting surgery and medical service response, officials say.

The agency is also tasked with improving the quality of care across Alberta and enhancing access to care in rural, remote and Indigenous communities. It also will work on improving diagnostic imaging.

3. CONTINUING CARE Home care, long-term and more

The continuing care agency will not be an operator in the field but oversee care providers and manage contracts for that service delivery.

What are the agency’s goals?

The continuing care group aim to maintain equitable, consistent and timely access to services. The agency wants to increase the quantity and geographic distribution of living opportunities to meet the needs of a growing and aging population, the government says.

Continuing care will be tasked with improving team-based cross-sector care leveraging other health and social services and strive to create a single point of entry into the care system.

4. MENTAL HEALTH Community services, Addiction Helpline

The mental health and addiction agency, reporting to the minister of the same name, will be responsible for delivering in-patient and outpatient care for children and adults.

The ministry will provide system oversight including holding contracts with third party service providers.

What are the agency’s goals?

The mental health and addiction division will focus on supporting every Albertan struggling with addition or mental health challenges in their pursuit of recovery, the government says.

It will ensure Albertans can can access a full continuum of recovery-oriented supports that help them improve their overall wellbeing and sustain recovery.

It will also be charged with expanding access to treatment and recovery supports across Alberta.

READ MORE: New AHS board to refocus on acute care delivery

The government will start holding town halls with AHS on Thursday and engagement efforts with Albertans will kick off in early December. Province-wide workforce engagement will begin mid-January, officials say.