Attaching Patients in Primary Care Through Centralized Waiting Lists: Seven Canadian Provinces Compared




Breton, Mylaine
Smithman, Mélanie Ann
Vandesrasier, Audrey
Kreindler, Sara A.
Sasseville, Martin
Sutherland, Jason
Green, Michael
Jbilou, Jalila
Shaw, Jay
Gard Marshall, Emily

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Health Reform Observer


Canada has the lowest rate of attachment to primary care providers among OECD countries, which makes access and continuity of care problematic. To address this important issue, seven Canadian provinces have implemented centralized waiting lists (CWLs) for unattached patients in primary care. Introduced at different times, no two provinces' CWLs are exactly alike. The main goal of these CWLs is to reduce the number of unattached patients. In some provinces, CWLs also serve to monitor primary care activity or prioritize vulnerable patients. Societal pressure and broader primary care reform influenced the implementation of the CWLs in each province. Monitoring, in terms of data collected and purpose, differs between provinces. The interprovincial comparison enables identification of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats during implementation and at each step of the CWLs: registration, patient assessment and attachment. Common issues with CWLs across provinces include the importance of monitoring to facilitate implementation, the need for specific measures to ensure access for vulnerable and complex patients, and the shortage of primary care providers.



comparative study, primary health care, primary care provider, health services accessibility, unattached patients, waiting lists, registries, physicians


Breton, M., Smithman, M. A., Vandesrasier, A., Kreindler, S., Sasseville, M., Brousselle, A., … Wong, S. T. (2019). Attaching Patients in Primary Care Through Centralized Waiting Lists: Seven Canadian Provinces Compared. Health Reform Observer, 7(1), 1-20.