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Patients Offer Alberta Family Physicians Strong Marks for Care – Offer Insights on Non-Medical Enhancement of the Patient Experience

Please note: Research findings should be directly attributed to albertapatients.ca.


(EDMONTON) Patients express high levels of satisfaction with the care they receive from primary care doctors in Alberta, according to a recent survey conducted by albertapatients.ca. In the March 2017 survey, over seven-in-ten (72%) rate their overall last experience with an Alberta primary care doctor as “excellent/very good” (5 or 4 on a 5-point scale).


The results also pointed to several significant “non-medical” impacts on patient satisfaction; chief among them being a patient’s relationship with a family doctor. The survey reveals that patients receiving care from a regular family doctor tend to report higher levels of satisfaction with the experience.


  • 89% of respondents report that their last visit to a family doctor was to their regular family physician (or clinic where they may see several physicians regularly)


  • Patient satisfaction is considerably higher among patients seeing their regular doctor(s)
    • 77% “excellent/very good” among those seeing their regular doctor(s) vs. only 46% for those who didn’t


  • Patient satisfaction is considerably higher among those who have a single, regular family doctor rather than those relying on a roster of physicians or have no regular doctor(s) at all
    • 75% “excellent/very good” among those who have a single primary care physician vs. 50% or less among those who do not


Delays in a family practitioner’s office are inevitable, however the survey suggests that appointment delays (and the management of those delays) have significant impacts on patient satisfaction.


  • Fully 45% of patients who had a scheduled appointment for their last visit to a family physician report that the visit DID NOT start on time, and among this group, only 12% report that anyone from the doctor’s office (the doctor or staff) explained to them why their appointment was delayed


  • While these delays are generally tolerated by patients (59% saying it was acceptable), they do have a considerable drain on overall patient satisfaction with the experience
    • 89% of those whose last appointment started on time rate the overall doctor experience as “excellent/very good” vs. only 66% among those experiencing a delay


  • Managing these delays with a simple explanation often eliminates the negative impact of the delay itself
    • Satisfaction among those who received an explanation for a delay are identical to those whose appointments started on time


Every patient’s need for timely primary care is different – some may need to access an appointment with their doctor quickly, while others may be able to wait. Insights from patients on the issue provides valuable information to primary care doctors about what constitutes an acceptable wait time between booking an appointment and seeing a physician.


Being able to see a family doctor within a one-week appointment window is highly acceptable to patients in Alberta; Patient acceptance beyond that window drops off significantly.


  • Most patients report that their last visit to a family doctor was accommodated within one week or less: 11% walk-in and 47% through an appointment. However, 24% report an appointment of between 1 – 2 weeks, and 17% longer than that


  • A one week wait to see a family physician is highly acceptable to patients (over 90%), but tolerance drops off significantly after that
    • 58% whose last appointment was 1-2 weeks out say it was acceptable, dropping to 46% at 2 – 4 weeks and only 38% for a month or more


Click the link to view:


Key News Release Results: https://www.albertapatients.ca/MediaServer/Shared/Releases/ABP%20Primary%20Care%20Release%20Results.pdf


Detailed Report of Findings: https://www.albertapatients.ca/MediaServer/Shared/Releases/ABP%20Primary%20Care%20Detailed%20Findings.pdf




About albertapatients


These findings are drawn from research conducted on behalf of the Alberta Medical Association for its albertapatients initiative – an online community that provides Albertans the opportunity to provide input and feedback into the province’s health care system, and help shape the future of health care in Alberta through regular professionally executed survey research. This initiative also acts as a conduit for Alberta’s doctors to update patients about what’s going on in health care delivery, and report on findings from the survey research. This study was designed and conducted in response to interest expressed by albertapatients community members.


Research findings should be directly attributed to albertapatients.ca




Survey Methodology


These are findings of an albertapatients.ca survey conducted on behalf of the Alberta Medical Association. ThinkHQ Public Affairs Inc. is a Canadian-based independent public opinion consultancy, and is the Alberta Medical Association’s research partner in the operation of albertapatients.ca.


The Study was fielded via a representative online research panel sample (albertapatients) between March 9 and March 16, 2017. Participants are Alberta residents over the age of 18, and the sample has been weighted to reflect the gender, age and regional distribution of Albertans who have used the healthcare system within the past 12 months. A total of 1657 interviews were conducted for the survey. The online methodology utilizes a representative but non-random sample therefore margin of error is not applicable. However, a probability sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.4 percentage points.






Shannon Rupnarain

Assistant Executive Director, Public Affairs

Alberta Medical Association




Marc Henry

Research Director, albertapatients.ca