02/22/2013 02:16 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST

BC Family Doctors Soon Available By Phone

Patients in B.C. will soon be able to consult their family doctors by phone in a new program announced Friday by the provincial health ministry and the B.C. Medical Association.

The program called "A GP For Me" will be available across British Columbia starting April 1. Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid committed $24 million more to expand pilot projects that found family doctors for more than 9,000 patients in White Rock, Prince George and the Cowichan Valley.

Doctors will get paid $15 per patient phone call up to a maximum of 500 such consultations every year.

"This new program will make it easier for physicians to provide high-quality care to their patients, and in many cases ease their workload so that they can accept more patients into their practices," said Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid in a news release.

The initiative is part of a provincial goal to ensure all B.C. residents have access to a family doctor by 2015. It's estimated that 176,000 British Columbians don't have a family doctor.

Friday's announcement also includes incentives for doctors to take on patients with complex conditions such as cancer.

With files from The Canadian Press

Also on HuffPost

Photo gallery How Often Should You See These Health Experts? See Gallery