How Might your Community and Primary Care Reduce the Impact of Financial Strain

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This website is a place where you can share your insights, experiences, and ideas in reducing impact on financial strain in your community.

Income is one of the most important factors that influences health. Financial strain is economic pressure that can cause stress and harm health.

Digital stories are a powerful way to create a meaningful discussion and simulate thoughtful change. We invite you to share the short videos with your teams, discuss what resonates (you may wish to use the questions at the end), what changes you might want to make and engage with others already doing this work using our Map and Forum.

The ‘Reducing the Impact of Financial Strain (RIFS)’ project will strengthen connections between community members and organizations including primary care teams. The aim is to collaboratively design local solutions to support health by addressing financial concerns in a sensitive, compassionate and sustainable way. While community looks at improving supports, Primary Care teams identify and support patients with financial concerns and help them access appropriate community supports.

Check back often for more videos and participate in the forum discussion

This website is a place where you can share your insights, experiences, and ideas in reducing impact on financial strain in your community.

Income is one of the most important factors that influences health. Financial strain is economic pressure that can cause stress and harm health.

Digital stories are a powerful way to create a meaningful discussion and simulate thoughtful change. We invite you to share the short videos with your teams, discuss what resonates (you may wish to use the questions at the end), what changes you might want to make and engage with others already doing this work using our Map and Forum.

The ‘Reducing the Impact of Financial Strain (RIFS)’ project will strengthen connections between community members and organizations including primary care teams. The aim is to collaboratively design local solutions to support health by addressing financial concerns in a sensitive, compassionate and sustainable way. While community looks at improving supports, Primary Care teams identify and support patients with financial concerns and help them access appropriate community supports.

Check back often for more videos and participate in the forum discussion

  • Easing financial strain vital to well-being

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    Healthcare teams aim to address financial worries as a barrier to health

    Story by Danielle Griffith | Photo by Shawna McGhan


    Think back to your last medical visit. You likely discussed a current health concern or how to remain well. But would you be surprised if your primary care team asked you about your financial health?

    In 2019, a small group of Primary Care Network (PCN) physicians and nurses began to ask patients a simple question about their financial well-being — ‘Do you ever have difficulty making ends meet at the end of the month?’ The team screened for financial stress to determine what supports could help reduce the risk of further health concerns. In what’s come to be known as social prescribing, health teams also work to connect patients with benefits and supports in their local community, to things such as transportation, food, medication and access to technology.

    Read more about this story here

  • Breaking News: Financial Wellness Website Launched

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    The Reducing the Impact of Financial Strain (RIFS) website has launched! The website is chalk full of inspiration and resources designed to assist clinical, primary care and local community teams take action.

    Check it out here: Reducing the Impact of Financial Strain (RIFS) (healthiertogether.ca)

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  • Digital Story: The Snowball Effect

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    This story is about how quickly a difficult financial situation can begin to snowball out of control and directly impact the health and wellness of people in our communities. Shelly's story emphasizes how important it can be for healthcare providers to be aware of how financial strain can impact the care they provide to patients and their families.



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  • Podcast about Reducing the Impact of Financial Strain

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    Alberta Doctors' Digest Editor-in-Chief, Marvin Polis, talks to Dr. Karla Gustafson, Project Lead of the Reducing the Impact of Financial Strain (RIFS) initiative and Medical Officer of Health, Calgary Zone about income as a socio-economic determinant of health. They discuss the Reducing the Impact of Financial Strain (RIFS) initiative.

    LISTEN TO PODCAST (7:17MIN)

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  • Change package and training available for Primary Care

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    The RIFS Change Package and practice tools co-designed by AMA and the RIFS PCNs aims to helps physicians and team members implement practice changes that improve care for patients living with financial strain.

    CHANGE PACKAGE

    Training on Learn@AMA offers curriculum designed to help primary care physicians, clinical team members, and practice facilitators implement practice changes that improve care for patients living with financial strain. It will take approximately 3-hours to complete.

    SIGN UP FOR TRAINING

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  • Podcast: Socioeconomic determinants of health - Racialized Communities

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    Alberta Doctors' Digest Editor-in-Chief, Marvin Polis, talks to Dr. Gabriel Fabreau from Calgary about some of the socioeconomic determinants of health among immigrants, refugees, temporary foreign workers and other racialized communities.

    During his interview, Dr. Fabreau mentioned an article in CMAJ entitled Implementing social interventions in primary care. Here is a link to the article.

    Listen to the short podcast for some great insights and ways you can take action - Socioeconomic determinants of health - Racialized Communities | Alberta Doctors' Digest

  • Understanding what matters to communities in planning healthcare services: A Framework and User Guide

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    What Would a Health-Creating System Look Like? Most health systems are designed to address illness rather than achieve wellness. Any organization that wants to improve health equity must fundamentally change the current system that produces disparities in health outcomes. Co-designed by health system partners, the Population Health Needs Framework and User Guide identifies innovative opportunities to improve the health and well-being of Albertans and their communities. By shifting our perspective of health AND co-designing with Albertans, we will improve population health and health equity. This innovative approach is being used by AHS Zones, Primary Healthcare, and community partners to jointly plan services across the continuum of care. Share how you identify social determinants of health, plan and take action to improve population health and well-being?

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  • Infographic Summary of Reducing the Impact of Financial Strain

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  • Take a Closer Look. The impact of financial strain on health.

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    RIFS Project Infographic.

  • McLeod River PCN RIFS team recognized for improving health journeys

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    One of the teams working on the Reducing the Impacts of Financial Strain (RIFS) project has received a Patient Experience Award from the Health Quality Council of Alberta.

    This annual award goes to initiatives that improve the way patients receive healthcare services. It’s a daunting mandate, but RIFS fits the bill perfectly. Since income is one of the most powerful determinants of health, RIFS has enormous potential to give people in Alberta a better experience throughout their health journeys.

    The award recognizes the contributions of one RIFS team, the Life Medical Clinic and the McLeod River Primary Care Network (PCN). They embedded screening questions that uncover the patient’s full picture, open up life-changing conversations and establish relevant community connections.

    Asking a simple question like, “Do you ever have trouble making ends meet?” can spark dialogue that helps providers get a holistic view of the patient and use a broader socio-economic context to offer support. Providers can then connect patients to the right community services at the right time.

    Informing this work was a collaborative effort by the RIFS team to understand what matters most to the patient and how their social needs impact their health. The end goal? To create a safe space for conversations about finances and health.

    A key member of the team, Dr. Joseph Ojedokun of the McLeod River PCN, echoes the importance of open conversations about contextual issues like financial strain: “Ask what matters. Listen to what matters. Do what matters.”

    Not surprisingly, this multidisciplinary project is backed by a diverse team, including the AHS Provincial Population and Public Health (PPPH) and Primary Health Care programs and their Strategic Clinical and Integration (PHC IN) Networks, and the Alberta Medical Association (AMA).

    The clinic and PCN together with Zone level Public Health was part of a community-based multi-sectoral team that mapped out and engaged with local agencies that could provide appropriate support for each patient and for community members who may not be accessing the health system.

    This team also co-designed actions that mobilized community partners to collectively identify local assets and respond to local needs, such as partnering with the local library to provide equal access to Wi-Fi and a computer lending program that aims to facilitate citizens accessing benefits, services and/or employment opportunities that promote financial wellbeing.

    The RIFS project has now been piloted by three PCN-Zone-Community sites: McLeod River (North Zone), St. Albert Sturgeon (Edmonton Zone) and Kalyna Country (Central Zone). The project was co-designed locally with each clinic, PCN and community partnership.

    We invite you to watch the RIFS digital stories and discuss with your team: Tara's and Lacey's narratives were developed by the Life Medical Clinic and the McLeod River PCN. You’ll see how reducing financial strain, in partnership with community, can change patients’ lives for the better.

    You can also listen to Tara, Lacey and Dr. Joseph share their experiences as part of a panel of presenters in the ChangeMaker webinar. Join us in congratulating this team for their Patient Experience Award!


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