Here are Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for the Primary Healthcare Panel Report. More questions? Send us a note: primaryhealthcarereports@hqca.ca.

What are the panel reports?
  • Panel reports provide family physicians with a personalized summary about their patients (their panel) including panel characteristics (size, burden of illness, deprivation indexes), screening rates, continuity, and patient utilization of services both inside and outside clinic walls.
Why does the HQCA produce panel reports?
  • Panel reports were developed to support physicians to better understand their patient panel and the care their patients receive. The HQCA has a legislated mandate to promote and improve patient safety, person-centred care, and health service quality for Albertans. Panel reports are one mechanism that supports this mandate and overall improvement in the health system.
Where does the data in the panel report come from?
  • The panel report is a combination of administrative health data and your patient panel list.
  • The administrative data is from Alberta Health and Alberta Health Services e.g., physician billing activity, inpatient hospital, lab use, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, Emergency Department, cancer screening, vaccination data
  • The panel list is either estimated by the HQCA (proxy), or is provided by the physician (confirmed), or is provided by the CII-CPAR initiative for participating physicians.
  • Watch this video to learn more about where the data comes from.
How are the measures in the panel report selected?
  • The HQCA revisits the measures in the panel report on a yearly basis. We routinely meet with the Alberta College of Family Physicians, Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Medical Association, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, the Physician Learning Program, Primary Care Networks, and others to generate this resource. These organizations share healthcare system priorities and potential areas of focus for measurement.
How does the HQCA know who is on my patient panel?
  • The panel list is either estimated by the HQCA (proxy), is provided by the physician (confirmed), or is provided by the CII-CPAR initiative for participating physicians.
What is a proxy panel?
  • It is an estimate of your patient panel derived from the proxy algorithm developed by the HQCA.
How does the HQCA estimate who is on my proxy panel?
  • The HQCA uses a proxy algorithm to assign patients to a single physician. The proxy algorithm is probabilistic, so it goes through steps (or cuts) for each patient to produce an estimate that there is a highly probable relationship between a physician and a patient.
  • To be included in the algorithm, the patient must have visited a primary care physician in the last three years at a primary care setting and be an active patient (covered under the Alberta Healthcare Insurance Plan as of one year prior to the release of the report).
  • Any patient that is assigned to a physician is a patient they billed for at least once in the previous three years.
How did the HQCA develop the proxy algorithm?
  • The HQCA reverse engineered the patient-provider relationship (through patient activity, diagnostic codes and procedure codes) for over 200,000 patients from over 200 confirmed patient lists to develop the algorithm.
Is the proxy algorithm the same as the Alberta Health 4-cut method?
  • The HQCA uses a 5-cut method to generate proxy panels whereas Alberta Health uses a 4-cut method to determine panel size and PCN funding. This means there might be differences in panel sizes between the HQCA proxy panel and panel size determined by Alberta Health.
How does the HQCA determine who is in the PCN, Zone and Alberta comparators in my report?
  • The PCN panel is based on the proxy algorithm and includes all patients who are assigned to a physician that is part of a PCN.
  • To create the Zone panel, the HQCA collates all the patients assigned to the PCN as well as all of the patients living in postal codes within that zone, including patients who have a family doctor that is not part of the PCN and those patients who have no family doctor relationship.
  • The Alberta panel includes all patients in the five Alberta Health Services zones. As such, the zone and Alberta panel data include patients with no PCN affiliation and patients with no family doctor relationship.
  • All calculations include only patients who are currently listed as ‘Active’ in the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan (AHCIP) Registry database.
What is a confirmed patient list?
  • A Confirmed Patient List (CPL) is a list of patients where the patient and physician have agreed that this physician is their family physician and most responsible for their care.
  • A confirmed list is created from your Electronic Medical Record (EMR).
  • Physicians can work with their support team (e.g., Improvement Facilitator, Panel Manager, etc.,) to send the HQCA their confirmed list for a CPL report. If participating in the CII-CPAR, the confirmed list will come directly to the HQCA from the CPAR.
  • See: Instructions for submitting your confirmed patient list to the HQCA.
What is the relationship between CII/CPAR and the HQCA panel reports?
  • The HQCA is a partner with the CII/CPAR initiative. This partnership allows the HQCA to fulfill our legislated mandate to improve patient safety, person-centred care, and health service quality. For family physicians participating in CII/CPAR, the partnership allows them – on an opt-in basis – to easily access the HQCA Primary Healthcare Panel Reports.
  • Rest assured, the HQCA takes this partnership seriously and is protective of the data shared through the CII/CPAR initiative. We are a provincial custodian under the Health Information Act of Alberta (HIA). That means the information we collect is strictly protected and confidential under this provincial legislation. Panel reports are confidential and are provided only to the requesting physician. Primary care networks, clinics, and physician care teams can only receive panel reports if the physician provides written permission for the report to be shared.
What if I am participating in CII/CPAR? Do I need to submit my list to the HQCA as well?
  • If you are participating in CII/CPAR, and interested in receiving a Confirmed Patient List (CPL) report, you do not need to submit your CPL to the HQCA. Simply request your CPL report from the HQCA annually. We will generate your panel report based on your panel list from CPAR.
Will my panel list be more accurate if I participate in CII/CPAR?
  • The measures in the panel report are most accurate when your panel truly represents the list of patients for whom you are the most responsible provider. If your panel report is based on CII/CPAR, your patient list in the panel report will be updated monthly to reflect your CII/CPAR patient list. While the measures in your report will continue to be from the previous fiscal year or more recently for cancer screening measures, you can be assured the data in your report will reflect the list of patients uploaded to CII/CPAR through your EMR. Participating in CII/CPAR is the most accurate process to validate and share your panel information. To get started, with CII/CPAR visit this website.
How recent is the data in my report?
  • The most recent data in your report is preventative screening information. It is updated every six months. The rest of the information in your report is updated annually. Panel reports are released in April of each year and contain data from April to March of the previous year. We include data for the past three years of each report which provides you with valuable historical data to identify trends and to expose major fluctuations so you can target your quality improvement initiatives with confidence.
How can I use this report?
  • Use it to help identify “what matters to you?” Use the data to make appropriate and strategic decisions based on what matters to you and the needs of your business and patient panel. Take the guesswork out of planning. Use the information to determine your ideal panel size based on how many days you work and how often your patients use healthcare services, learn about when your patients go to the ED and for what reasons, and what is the relationship between your continuity rate and other measures like screening rates and service utilization.
  • Self-identify areas of interest using peer benchmarks. Peer comparisons provide you with an external perspective on your practice so you can identify areas where you are practicing differently from your peers or your patients are using the system differently from others in their geographic area.
  • Identify actionable business and improvement opportunities. Having the ability to drill down into the data makes practice change more manageable and actionable. For example, identify gaps in screening and key preventive interventions. Focus your efforts on those patients who need it the most e.g., go from identifying all patients not screened for diabetes, to those who are at high risk and not screened (e.g., patients with cardiovascular disease and no diabetes screening on record).
  • Strengthen your patients’ medical home. Gain insight into what happens outside of your clinic walls and your EMR. See how your patients use other healthcare services like ED visits (and for what purpose) and family doctors. Data informs how to allocate resources and identify services needed and improvement opportunities based on your panel.
Why is my panel size different than what is in my EMR or what was sent CII/CPAR?
  • The HQCA can only assign a patient to one physician. When the HQCA gets data from CII/CPAR there are often conflicts where a patient is on more than one list. The HQCA then assigns using the most recent validation date.  This could be part of why numbers differ.
  • The HQCA can only assign patients that are active on the latest version of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan Registry. This means that only patients registered with Alberta Health, are assigned. Patients who are new to the province or who have not gone through this process are not assigned to a physician.
Sometimes I feel this is not my data because it does not reflect how I practice, why is that?
  • The measures in the panel report are derived from patient activity and the services patients’ use, so a physician might see patient information results that are incongruent with their practice. For example:
    • A physician might see that their patients are being dispensed a pharmaceutical they did not prescribe? Why? The patient obtained a prescription from another provider.
Do I order a proxy or confirmed report?
  • Choosing the right report to request is an important first step. Visit this page to better decide what’s best for you.


How far back does the data go?
  • You don’t have to worry about missing critical information from more than three years ago. For example, certain measures related to chronic conditions are “locked in” so a diagnosis of hypertension from about 20 years ago is still included. In addition, certain measures such as a colonoscopy test for cancer screening will look back to data from 10 years ago.
How is my privacy protected?
  • Physician-level panel reports are confidential and are not shared with anyone other than the physician unless requested by that physician.