What are the impacts of being formally enrolled with a GP on continuity and integration of care? Evidence from a comparison of Quebec and British Columbia

Health Research BC is providing match funds for this research project, which is funded by CIHR’s Strategy for Patient Oriented Research (SPOR) Primary and Integrated Health Care Innovations (PIHCI) Network – Comparative Program and Policy Analysis Grant. Additional support is provided by the University of British Columbia and several Quebec-based institutions and organizations.


The idea behind patient enrolment with a general practitioner (GP) — also called rostering or registration — is that all patients have a family doctor responsible for their care. For some provinces, patient enrolment is a foundation of efforts to make primary health care more accessible, continuous, and of higher quality. Many jurisdictions either have or are considering implementing such programs, with the belief that this can ensure accessible, timely health care for Canadians. To date, little is known about the actual benefits of patient enrolment policies in Canada.


Researchers in two provinces with patient enrolment programs — British Columbia and Quebec — have teamed up to investigate and compare the impact of different approaches to enrollment with a GP on the continuity and integration of care for patients in each province.


Dr. Kimberlyn McGrail, associate professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the School of Population and Public Health, and the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, is leading the BC team of researchers. The Quebec-based research is led by the project’s overall principal investigator Dr. Erin Strumpf, associate professor in the Department of Economics and the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health at Montreal’s McGill University.


The two-year project brings together patients, health care providers, decision makers and researchers. Researchers will interview patients and family doctors on their experiences and priorities regarding enrolment and will analyze health care data to assess the effects of enrolment policies on health care services use.


The research results will provide insights on the effects of enrolment, including whether it is more effective for some patients than others, with special attention paid to those Canadians who use and need the health care systems most. The resulting evidence will support decision makers in designing and tailoring policies to build patient-oriented, integrated health care and social services systems.