UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Finding primary care : Repurposing physician registration data to generate a regionally accurate list of primary care clinics : Development and validation of an open-source algorithm Cooper, Ian R.; Lindsay, Cameron; Fraser, Keaton; Hill, Tiffany T.; Siu, Andrew; Fletcher, Sarah; Klimas, Jan; Hamilton, Michee-Ana; Frazer, Amanda D.; Humphrys, Elka; et al.


Background: Some Canadians have limited access to longitudinal primary care, despite its known advantages for population health. Current initiatives to transform primary care aim to increase access to team-based primary care clinics. However, many regions lack a reliable method to enumerate clinics, limiting estimates of clinical capacity and ongoing access gaps. A region-based complete clinic list is needed to effectively describe clinic characteristics and to compare primary care outcomes at the clinic level. Objective: The objective of this study is to show how publicly available data sources, including the provincial physician license registry, can be used to generate a verifiable, region-wide list of primary care clinics in British Columbia, Canada, using a process named the Clinic List Algorithm (CLA). Methods: The CLA has 10 steps: (1) collect data sets, (2) develop clinic inclusion and exclusion criteria, (3) process data sets, (4) consolidate data sets, (5) transform from list of physicians to initial list of clinics, (6) add additional metadata, (7) create working lists, (8) verify working lists, (9) consolidate working lists, and (10) adjust processing steps based on learnings. Results: The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia Registry contained 13,726 physicians, at 2915 unique addresses, 6942 (50.58%) of whom were family physicians (FPs) licensed to practice in British Columbia. The CLA identified 1239 addresses where primary care was delivered by 4262 (61.39%) FPs. Of the included addresses, 84.50% (n=1047) were in urban locations, and there was a median of 2 (IQR 2-4, range 1-23) FPs at each unique address. Conclusions: The CLA provides a region-wide description of primary care clinics that improves on simple counts of primary care providers or self-report lists. It identifies the number and location of primary care clinics and excludes primary care providers who are likely not providing community-based primary care. Such information may be useful for estimates of capacity of primary care, as well as for policy planning and research in regions engaged in primary care evaluation or transformation.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution 4.0 International