Doctors of BC are applauding an effort by the provincial government to retain and attract physicians to family medicine.
One month after launching a new payment model for doctors, 2,024 family doctors have enrolled. That number equates to 45 per cent of practicing longitudinal family doctors in B.C. of those, 149 are new doctors or those returning to family practice after working in other areas.
The new plan, partially replaces the fee-for-service model, marking a shift where doctors could only bill the government on a per-visit basis. Now, the program allows them to bill for issues like time spent with a patient, diagnostic assistance and research into a patient’s health. The new model also reduces administrative work for doctors.
“We are pleased with the response to the new model which represents a significant shift in the way we practice,” said Dr. Josh Greggain, president of Doctors of BC.
“We are hearing that many family doctors who had been planning to leave or retire are reconsidering that decision, which means that thousands of patients who would then be without a family doctor will continue to have one. We are also starting to recruit new and returning physicians, which creates new openings for patients who want a family doctor. Patients will benefit as the positive response continues to build momentum."
“This new payment model is improving the healthcare system for British Columbians,” says Dr. Danette Dawkin, president of BC Family Doctors. “While there isn’t a single solution, I am confident that this payment model is enabling family doctors to spend more time with patients when needed and accept more patients when capacity allows.”
The payment model includes elements that address:
- the time a physician spends providing patient care of all types,
- the number of patients a physician sees,
- the size and complexity of a physician’s patient panel.
This means family physicians who enroll are compensated for all the time needed for patient care, including time spent with patients, care coordination, and required paperwork, especially important for patients with complex needs, mental health concerns, and seniors.
The next phase will be to improve and expand the new model for hospital care, long-term care, and maternity care. Administrators will also look for ways to adapt to the unique needs of rural and remote communities.