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B.C. health-care system strengthened by new payment model for doctors

November 7, 2022 at 4:59 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Together, the Province, Doctors of BC, and BC Family Doctors have achieved a new payment model for family doctors to help protect, support and strengthen B.C.’s health-care system and patient care.

Under the new payment model, the Province will be better able to attract new family doctors to family practice and retain existing doctors.

“We know how important family doctors are in B.C.,” said Premier John Horgan. “Rising costs, pandemic-related pressures and staffing shortages required action for doctors on several fronts. Working with the Doctors of BC, I am pleased that we have come up with a new payment model that makes B.C. a province that attracts, retains and supports family doctors, and ensures they can focus on what matters most – providing care to patients when they need it.”

The new payment model, co-developed by Doctors of BC, BC Family Doctors and the Province, will be available to family doctors beginning February 2023.

It provides another option for family doctors that marks a departure from the fee-for-service model under which doctors are paid based primarily on the number of patients they see in a day. The new model takes into account factors including:

  • the time a doctor spends with a patient;
  • the number of patients a doctor sees in a day;
  • the number of patients a doctor supports through their office;
  • the complexity of the issues a patient is facing; and
  • administrative costs currently paid directly by family doctors.

“In January, as our B.C. pandemic entered a new phase, we said it was time to renew, rebuild and strengthen our health-care system,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “And the actions we’ve been taking, including the new payment model, come from working so closely with Doctors of BC and BC Family Doctors to find solutions that strengthen our health-care system, that renew its essential function, and that build on our support for doctors and the patients who count on them. Today is about commitment, action, and collaboration, and all they make possible in our health-care system.”

This provides a more equitable payment for the work of family doctors and better recognizes their value in providing full-service primary care to patients. Full-service family doctors are those who work in communities to provide ongoing primary-care services to their patients. It will help maintain their business autonomy and give them more flexibility to create the kind of practice that works best for them and their patients.

The Province and Doctors of BC have also reached a tentative physician master agreement (PMA), which includes several commitments that will better support doctors as they care for their patients.

The new three-year tentative PMA drives continued collaboration by the Ministry of Health, physicians, Doctors of BC, and regional health authorities to achieve key priorities that improve health care, including gender equity, Indigenous reconciliation and workplace safety. It also addresses work completed after regular operating hours by advancing improvements to existing alternative physician payment contracts and increases.

“We are excited about these two major developments that we believe will make a real difference in helping to improve health care in B.C.,” said Dr Ramneek Dosanjh, president, Doctors of BC. “Over the last months, the provincial government has listened to the voices of physicians who passionately care about our patients. The new physician master agreement, which must be ratified by B.C.’s doctors, recognizes the value of the work doctors do every day. The new payment model option for family doctors is unique in Canada, bringing together the best of a range of payment methods. The goal is to not only stabilize longitudinal family practice, but to also make it sustainable and rewarding. Everyone deserves a family doctor, and this new option is a major step toward making that goal a reality.”

Improving and increasing access to health services for patients will continue to be the focus of Doctors of BC and Ministry of Health working groups over the coming months. This includes how best to attach patients with complex needs, a provincial rostering system to ensure patient care continuity, a provincial patient survey and how best to incorporate into the new model other services that family doctors provide outside of clinics. These efforts are part of a re-focusing of B.C.’s primary-care strategy.

This announcement also builds on the commitment made in May by Premier Horgan and Dix to work with Doctors of BC on a multi-phased approach to help protect and strengthen B.C.’s health-care system. In August, the Province announced stabilization funding of $118 million to support family doctors with overhead costs. On Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, 3,164 family doctors will receive $107 million in stabilization payments.

The new payment model is part of B.C.’s Health Human Resources Strategy announced on Sept. 29, 2022. This strategy puts patients first by ensuring they get the health services they need and are cared for by a healthy workforce. It focuses on 70 key actions to recruit, train and retain health-care workers, while redesigning the health-care system to foster workplace satisfaction and innovation.

Learn More:

To learn more about Doctors of BC, visit: https://www.doctorsofbc.ca/

To learn more about the Province’s health human resource strategy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022HLTH0059-001464

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