The province aims to provide every British Columbian with a family doctor by 2015, Health Minister Kevin Falcon announced Thursday.

The $137-million pledge should improve health outcomes by ensuring patients are treated by doctors who know their medical history.

“This shift will change the patient’s journey through the health system and care so patients receive consistent and appropriate care through their family doctor over a lifetime,” Falcon said in a release.

Under the initiative, high-needs patients, people with chronic diseases and seniors will be treated by health-care teams that could include family physicians, specialists, nurses and pharmacists.

There will also be faster consultations with specialists because of new payment mechanisms that allow telephone consults.

Thursday’s announcement of a new primary health-care initiative includes the so-called “divisions of family practice,” which will be rolled out in White Rock, Prince George and the Cowichan Valley and expanded into up to 20 additional communities as early as the fall.

The divisions of family practice is a way for family physicians to work collaboratively and should assist newcomers to a community in finding a family doctor.

As many as 400,000 people and 400 physicians will participate in the first phase of the initiative.

It will be expanded to more than 40 communities by March 2011 and to all of B.C. by 2015.

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