Keeping Doors Open
Primary care is the front door of the healthcare system. Early in the pandemic, there was concern that this front door may have started to close as anecdotal reports suggested some family practices were contemplating closing their doors either completely or for in-person visits. Our team reached out to family doctors (FPs) and general practitioners (GPs) providing comprehensive care in the city of Toronto to determine the extent and causes behind practice closures, and explore how to support affected practices and patients.
Practice patterns in January 2021, virtual care, and practice intentions
Between March to June 2021, we surveyed 1186 family physicians practicing in Toronto and asked them about practice patterns in January 2021, their balance of in-person and virtual visits, desired virtual care supports, and their practice intentions.
We received responses from 1016 (86%) of physicians surveyed and found that 99.7% were open during January 2021 and 95% were seeing people in-person.
View a summary of our findings here:
Practice patterns during the first COVID wave:
Between May to October 2020, we surveyed 1406 family physicians practicing in Toronto. Our key findings were as follows:
- The vast majority of family practices were open and providing care to their patients.
- The most commonly cited reasons for closure, in rank order, were health concerns, a lack of PPE, and PPE costs.
- Male and older physicians were more likely to close their doors entirely
View the Keeping the Doors Open: Maintaining Primary Care Access and Continuity During COVID-19 Interim Report, January 2021 (256 KB)
View the related article Almost 20 per cent of Toronto doctors are considering closing their practice in the next five years.
Educating the public:
Our team has produced a one-page handout for the public to confirm that family doctors’ offices are largely open; that virtual care is care; and what to do in case your doctor’s office is closed.
This project received funding from the INSPIRE Primary Health Care Research Program which is funded through the Health Systems Research Program of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Team. This project also received in-kind support Ontario Health and collaborators. The opinions, results and conclusions reported in papers, reports, and presentations are those of the authors and are independent from the funding sources. No endorsement by the Ontario MOHLTC is intended or should be inferred.