The B.C. Ministry of Health announced Wednesday that its new doctor payment model has come into effect.
Adrian Dix first unveiled the new payment model in October 2022, saying the payment model will help to retain and entice new B.C. doctors within the province.
“I believe it’s the most significant reform to primary care in my lifetime in the history of (B.C.’s) public health-care system,” Dix said.
“It addresses inequities in composition, helping to attract and retain family physicians and therefore increasing the number of physicians able to provide care to people in B.C.”
Dix said the payment model was developed together with B.C. doctors and will be “transformational” for patients, especially those with chronic diseases, doctors, and the health-care system as a whole.
“As of (Wednesday), 1,043 family doctors have signed up. We are expecting those numbers to grow significantly over the coming days and weeks,” he said.
The new system moves away from the fee-for-service model and considers factors including the 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, the government announced in October.
It’s built around a full-time equivalent, full-service family physician providing 1,680 hours, seeing 1,250 patients of average complexity, and having 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 number of days worked per week.
The new model was co-developed by Doctors of BC, BC Family Doctors, and the provincial government. Family physicians can choose to continue with the current model or opt into the new one.
Dix said he understands the payment model will not solve B.C.’s family doctor shortage immediately but it is an important step taken to address the issue.
“This is an important moment in the history of the public health-care system. It will not improve everything overnight, but it shows our joint determination to make things better,” Dix said.
The Doctors of BC, a voluntary association of 14,000 medical professionals in the province, agrees the change will be transformative for family physicians and their futures within the province.
“It’s a building block for the renewal of the primary care system that has eroded over time,” said Dr. Joshua Greggain, Doctors of BC’s president.
“We know people don’t have access to the care they need, and we know everyone deserves a family doctor.
“This starts to address some of the crises in family medicine.”
— With files from Global BC’s Richard Zussman