New patient registry matches 800 people with doctors

The province's new patient registry has matched 800 New Brunswickers with family doctors and nurse practitioners since it was launched in May, says the health minister.

New Brunswick Medical Society says it's a start in solving wait list woes

The new patient registry has matched 800 doctorless patients with a health care provider, the provincial government says. 1:59

The New Brunswick Health Department is hoping its new and improved patient registry will be a cure-all to its waiting list woes.

Patient Connect NB, launched in May, allows patients in need of a family physician to apply on-line or over the phone simply by dialing 811.

So far, about 800 patients have been matched with family doctors and nurse practitioners and about 300 more are being assigned, said Health Minister Ted Flemming.

"It is encouraging that we are seeing these positive results after just two months of the registry being in operation," he said in a statement.

It's a start, said New Brunswick Medical Society president Dr. Robert Desjardins. "It's going in the right direction, the volume of the service is good," he said.

"But having 800 patients that have been matched to a physician is relatively small when we consider that we have 60,000 patients that do not have a family physician."

Many faced lengthy waits

The old system of simply sitting on a waiting list was notorious for making prospective patients wait for months, sometimes even years for a family doctor.

The new system replaced all of the province's no-physician lists.

It incorporates both French and English subsystems, benefits from having more resources and has professionals such as registered nurses actively working to find available doctors for families in need, health department officials say.

Patients who were on the previous lists have been grandfathered into the new registry, but officials say it doesn't hurt to reapply.

May reduce walk-ins

It's their hope that the new list will not only benefit those looking for family doctors but shrink the amount of walk-in patients.

As it stands, wait-listed patients have only after-hour clinics and emergency rooms to turn to for their health needs, a trend that the government would like see curbed.

For expecting mothers, such as Danielle Scashko, waiting for an extended period of time isn't an option. Neither is waiting long periods of time in a walk-in clinic, she said.

Scashko is like many in New Brunswick. She moved here from a neighboring province, coming for school with her partner and young family, including a son.

For now, she's using walk-in clinic for her family's needs, but with another baby on the way, she's hopeful that the new system will work in her favour.

"I'm on a bit of a ticking clock," she said.