B.C. makes seismic shift in funding model to retain, attract more family doctors

Click to play video: 'B.C. government reaches new payment model for doctors'
B.C. government reaches new payment model for doctors
A big step Monday in dealing with B.C.'s doctor shortage as the province has reached a groundbreaking new payment model that's being described by physicians as being one of the best ever negotiated. Richard Zussman has details – Oct 31, 2022

The B.C. government is overhauling the payment model in an attempt to retain family doctors and attract new ones.

The new model, co-developed by Doctors of BC, BC Family Doctors and the provincial government, will be available as of February 2023. Family physicians can choose to continue with the current model or opt in to the new one.

“We know how important family doctors are in B.C.,” Premier John Horgan said.

“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.”

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Rally in Victoria over access to family doctors in B.C.
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The new system moves away from the fee-for-service model and takes into account factors including time a doctor spends with a patient, the number of patients a doctor sees in a day, and the number of total patients a doctor supports through their office.

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It’s built around a full-time equivalent, full-service family physician providing 1,680 hours, 1,250 patients of average complexity, and 5,000 encounters/visits each year.

Based on these targets, doctors will earn $385,000, up from an average of $250,000.

The minimum to be eligible for the new model is to work one day per week, and pay will reflect the numbers of days worked per week.

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Additionally, doctors wanted the new model to include accommodations for the complexity of issues a patient is facing, as well as administrative costs that they currently pay directly.

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The government will also launch a province-wide database for British Columbians to be matched with a GP, to be up and running by the middle of next year.

The change also allows for longitudinal family practice clinics, where doctors work with nurses, nurse practitioners and medical office assistants.

“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,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

“Today is about commitment, action, and collaboration, and all they make possible in our health-care system.”

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Work is also being done to allow pharmacists to prescribe treatments for minor ailments, such as allergies, indigestion and acne, and for contraception.

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At the same time, the province and Doctors of BC association reached a tentative physician master agreement.

The new three-year deal addresses concerns around gender equity, Indigenous reconciliation and workplace safety, as well as work completed after regular operating hours.

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