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Frequently Asked Questions

General

Q. What is the Prescription for Health program?

  • The Prescription for Health program is part of the provincial government's Prevention and Health Improvement strategy, Healthy Families BC, and has been developed in partnership with the General Practice Services Committee (GPSC).
  • The program provides opportunities for British Columbians who smoke, are obese, are inactive or have unhealthy eating habits to talk to their family physician about improving their health.
  • Participating patients can access free-of-charge telephone-based lifestyle support services that encourage personal responsibility and investment in a healthy lifestyle.

Q. When did the program start?

  • The Prescription for Health program started June 1, 2011.

Q. How does the program work?

  • The Prescription for Health program is available to patients with one or more of the following risk factors: smoking; unhealthy eating (excess calories, fat or sodium in their diet); physical inactivity (less than 30 minutes of activity several times per week); and medical obesity (a body mass index of 30 or more).
  • Family physicians can conduct a Personal Health Risk Assessment visit with their patients who belong to one of the at-risk populations (smoker, unhealthy eating, physically inactive, obese) either as part of proactive care or in response to a request for preventive care from a patient.
  • Patients who fall into one or more of these target categories can then visit their physician to receive a personal health risk assessment.
  • Patients can self-refer to their family physician, or speak with their doctor during a routine office visit about setting up a separate Personal Health Risk Assessment visit.
  • The family physician will use the BC Lifetime Prevention Schedule (as a guide during the Personal Health Risk Assessment visit).
  • Upon completion of their Personal Health Risk Assessment, and at the end of their visit, the patient may identify a lifestyle change goal with their physician. This goal is documented on a "Prescription for Health".
  • The Prescription for Health may refer the patient to free-of-charge telephone-based lifestyle support services such as the Physical Activity Line, Dietitian Services at HealthLink BC, QuitNow Services, Self-Management Programs, the Canadian Mental Health Association's Bounce Back: Reclaim Your Health program, or other community resources as recommended by their physician.
  • The patient connects with a lifestyle support service by telephone, online or using a texting service. The lifestyle support service assists patients in achieving their lifestyle change goal.

Q. The program asks participants to identify a lifestyle change goal. What might this
goal look like?

  • Prescription for Health participants may be smokers or individuals who are inactive or have unhealthy eating habits.
  • One example of a goal for a participant may be to quit smoking.
  • In another example, the participant could work towards incorporating 30-minutes of physical activity into each day.

Q. How long is the program?

  • The Prescription for Health Program is an ongoing program available to British Columbians with one or more of the following risk factors:
    • smoking;
    • unhealthy eating (excess calories, fat or sodium in their diet);
    • physical inactivity (less than 30 minutes of activity several times per week);
    • and medical obesity (a body mass index of 30 or more).
  • Program participants will complete their program over different periods of time depending on the lifestyle goal(s) they have identified with their family physician.
  • Ideally participants will incorporate healthy living behaviours into their own lifestyle and their family's lifestyles, for the rest of their lives.

Q. Are participants able to access lifestyle support services after they complete the program?

  • Yes, Prescription for Health participants can continue to access the lifestyle support services once they reach their goal(s). Participants are encouraged to access these services to assist them in continuing to make healthy lifestyle choices and achieving new goals.
  • Programs such as the Physical Activity Line (PAL), Dietitian Services at HealthLink BC, QuitNow Services, the Bounce Back: Reclaim Your Health program and the self-management programs are currently free and available to all British Columbians.

Q. Do participants check in with their physician at the end of the program?

  • There is no requirement for Prescription for Health patients to follow up with their family physician upon reaching their healthy lifestyle goal(s); however, maintenance of their regular physician-patient relationship is encouraged.
  • Patients may update their physician by discussing progress on their goal(s) at a subsequent office visit that is medically required for the diagnosis or treatment of an existing medical condition. An office visit must not be booked with the family physician just to provide an update on the patient's progress.

Q. Are all B.C. family physicians participating?

  • Yes, all B.C. family physicians are eligible to participate in the Prescription for Health program.
  • Physicians can perform up to 100 Personal Health Risk Assessments per calendar year with their patients who smoke, are obese, are inactive or have unhealthy eating habits.

Q. Is there a subsidy incentive available to participants?

  • A one-time subsidy was previously offered to participants to put towards a physical activity program or personal nutritional counseling, however the subsidy portion of the program was discontinued in November 2014. For any questions regarding the subsidy incentive please email HealthyFamiliesBC.
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Eligibility

Q. I don't have a family doctor, how can I participate?

  • All B.C. family physicians are eligible to participate in the Prescription for Health program.
  • The BC College of Physicians and Surgeons regulates medical practice in British Columbia and provides a directory of physicians who are accepting new patients.

Q. Is there a minimum age for participation?

  • The Prescription for Health program is intended for any British Columbians who smoke, are obese, inactive or have unhealthy eating habits.
  • There is no minimum age for participation and the program is appropriate for children and adolescents as well as adults.
  • The program will include age-appropriate prevention recommendations such as immunization review, diet, exercise, and smoking discussions.

Q. Is there a limit on the number of patients that a family physician can refer to the program?

  • All B.C. family physicians are eligible to participate in the Prescription for Health program.
  • Physicians can perform up to 100 Personal Health Risk Assessments per calendar year with their patients who smoke, are obese, are inactive or have unhealthy eating habits.

Q. My doctor says I don't qualify. Are there similar resources that I can access on my own?

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Personal Health Risk Assessment

Q. What is the Personal Health Risk Assessment?

  • The Personal Health Risk Assessment is a medical assessment performed by a family physician to determine the preventable health risks facing a patient.
  • Upon completion of this assessment, the physician will develop a health promotion and illness prevention plan with the patient tailored to their medical needs and personal situation.
  • With this information, the patient may identify a lifestyle change goal which is documented on the Prescription for Health.
  • The prevention interventions discussed between the patient and physician during a Personal Health Risk Assessment are those identified in the BC Lifetime Prevention Schedule.

Q. What is the BC Lifetime Prevention Schedule?

  • The BC Lifetime Prevention Schedule is a comprehensive guide outlining evidence-based clinical preventive services required during a patient's life.
  • It emphasizes cancer screening, smoking cessation and cardiovascular disease prevention as well as pneumococcal and influenza immunization.

Q. What is a Prescription (Rx) for Health form?

  • The Prescription (Rx) for Health is a special pre-printed prescription (Rx) form that the family physician may use to record patient goals and make referrals. Both the family physician and the patient can sign the Prescription form.
  • The Prescription for Health also contains information related to the benefits of healthy eating and exercise.
  • Contact information for the lifestyle support services, and websites with more information about the services and the Prescription for Health program are provided on the form.
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Lifestyle Support Services

Q. What are lifestyle support services?

  • As part of Prescription for Health, participating patients may be referred to free-of-charge telephone-based lifestyle support services to assist patients in achieving their individual lifestyle change goals.
  • Organizations and services currently participating in the lifestyle support services include:
    • Physical Activity Line (PAL);
    • Dietitian Services at HealthLink BC;
    • QuitNow Services;
    • Self-Management Programs; and
    • Bounce Back: Reclaim Your Health program.

Q. What support does the program offer participants?

  • The Prescription for Health is a pre-printed prescription (Rx) containing information related to benefits such as healthy eating and physical activity.
  • The Prescription for Health acts as the initial document for a patient to be referred to lifestyle change and support services.
  • Several organizations and services are participating in this lifestyle support program, including the Physical Activity Line (PAL), Dietitian Services at HealthLink BC, QuitNow Services, Self-Management Programs, Bounce Back: Reclaim Your Health. Patients may access these services by telephone if they choose.
  • Patients who are referred to participating telephone-based lifestyle support services are encouraged to call the number on the prescription (Rx) form, and identify themselves as having a Prescription (Rx) for Health.

Q. Is the program open to British Columbians who have not completed a Personal Health Risk Assessment or who are not part of the Prescription for Health program?

Q. Will my information be shared with other service providers?

  • Information about you or your call is kept confidential.
  • All participating lifestyle support services have a legal obligation to protect your personal information under the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
  • Some of the services may, as part of their usual practice, wish to advise your family physician of your participation and completion of a program; this will only be done with your consent.
  • Information about you, or services you receive, will not be shared between telephone-based lifestyle support services.
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