Do People with Disabilities Have Difficulty Finding a Family Physician
McColl, Mary Ann
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Primary care has been ideally characterized as the medical home for all citizens, and yet recent data shows that approximately 6% do not have a family physician, and only 17.5% of family practices are open to new patients. Given acknowledged shortages of family physicians, this research asks the question: Do people with disabilities have particular difficulty finding a family physician? Health Care Connect (HCC) is a government-funded agency in Ontario Canada, designed to “help Ontarians who are without a family health care provider to find one”. Using data from HCC, supplemented by interviews with HCC staff, the study explores the average wait time for patients with disabilities to be linked with a primary care physician, and the challenges faced by agency staff in doing so. The study found that disabled registrants with the program are only slightly disadvantaged in terms of wait times to find a family physician, and success rates are ultimately comparable; however, agency staff report that there are a number of significant challenges associated with placing disabled patients.