What the FIG/FIT/FOE? Decoding Ontario’s Family Practice Models

There’s no point sugarcoating it – the Canadian healthcare system can be overwhelming. The difference between healthcare providers, funding models and health regions, among other things, can be very confusing. We’ve learned a lot since we started iamsick.ca, and we wanted to share it with you.

Since we are located in Ontario, we wanted to start off with exploring Ontario’s family practice models.

You may have heard healthcare professionals talk about “fits”, “figs”, “fins” and “foes”. You may even be part of one! As you probably guessed, these terms don’t refer to tantrums, fruits, fish and unknown enemies. In fact, they refer to acronyms that describe the different kinds of family practices in Ontario.

Each practice model differs by the kinds of services offered, the number of hours committed by the doctor, their purpose and their funding model. We created the infographic below to summarize the four most confusing models: FHTs, FHGs, FHNs and FHOs. Read on for a more descriptive summary.


1. Family Health Teams (FHT)

When you hear “fit” in the context of Ontario healthcare, chances are the speaker is referring to Family Health Teams. FHTs are multi-\disciplinary, meaning many different kinds of healthcare providers work together as your healthcare team. It is possible that there are many clinics or location that belong to one FHT.

Clinics associated with a FHT offer different healthcare services, such as pharmacies, diabetes management and mental health services. Each FHT has a different set of services, so it’s a good idea to check with your clinic.

2. Family Health Groups (FHG)

Family Health Groups may be smaller than FHTs, and are not multi-disciplinary. FHGs are a group of 3 or more doctors who have committed to providing after-hours care in addition to being available during regular hours.

Here, physicians are paid fee-for-service. Simply put, this means that family physicians are paid based on what service or procedure they perform.

3. Family Health Networks (FHN)

Like FHGs, Family Health Networks are groups of 3 or more doctors who are working as a team to provide care during regular and after hours. However, there are two main differences between FHNs and FHGs.

First, FHNs can apply to become FHTs. If they are successful in transitioning into a FHT, they can receive funding to bring multidisciplinary care providers to the team.

Second, FHNs are funded under a blended capitation model. The way it is calculated is complicated, but a simple way of understanding it is each family doctor is paid per patient. The amount that is paid per patient differs based on a predetermined set of criteria. In the case of FHNs, these criteria account for the patient’s age and sex.

4. Family Health Organizations (FHO)

Finally, we have Family Health Organizations. Like FHGs and FHNs, family physicians working in this model work in groups of 3 or more, and commit to regular and after hours services. FHOs can also apply to become FHTs, just like FHNs.

However, family doctors in FHOs are paid differently. They are still paid in the blended capitation model. The criteria used to determine the base pay is calculated differently.

Now you know the difference between FHTs, FHGs, FHNs and FHOs!

If you are looking for a new family doctor accepting new patients, visit iamsick.ca and click “Family doc accepting new patients” to see your nearby options.

Are you a patient or healthcare provider in any of these models? What do you think about these different structures? Let us know below! 


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