Urgent Need to Cut Red Tape and Admin Burden to Support Ontario’s Family Doctors and Patients
New survey results show need for immediate support to family doctors
May 19, 2023 – On this World Family Doctor Day, the Ontario College of Family Physicians is calling for urgent red tape reductions and administrative support to ensure family doctors have more quality time to spend with patients.
This call for action is in response to a new survey, conducted on behalf of the Ontario College of Family Physicians, of more than 1,300 family doctors. Survey results clearly outline the overwhelming administrative burden family doctors are experiencing:
- Family doctors report spending 19 hours a week on admin– most of which is unpaid and unnecessary.
- 94 per cent said they are overwhelmed with administrative/clerical tasks.
- A full day of seeing patients results in up to five hours spent on admin work.
- Family doctors need and want more time for direct patient care, but right now about 40 per cent of their time is spent on admin.
Admin tasks include having to send different referral forms for each specialist, faxing referrals, writing unnecessary sick notes, and filling out lengthy insurance forms that are different for each company. Additionally, family doctors, the majority of whom must run their clinics like small businesses, spend several hours every week on tasks required for managing an office.
Family doctors recognize that some administrative work will always be necessary to support patients. However, there are better, more efficient ways of doing things. Solutions that would provide immediate relief and increase time that family doctors spend with patients, include:
- Improve outdated digital systems. This includes making a specialist e-referral system available to all family doctors.
- Provide simpler, shorter and more streamlined insurance, social program and benefit forms.
- Standardize outgoing forms and referrals.
- Increase financial support for administrative team members.
- Hire healthcare team members who can provide family doctors with support. Right now, 75 per cent of family doctors and their patients in Ontario do not have access to this kind of team support.
As the foundation of the healthcare system, Ontario needs family doctors spending as much time with patients as possible. With 161,000 patient visits every day in Ontario, family doctors see more patients than any other healthcare professional. When patients don’t have access to a family doctor it can mean that immunizations aren’t provided, cancer screenings missed, and patients may be forced to use hospital emergency rooms for issues that are not urgent.
While steps have been made in Ontario to bring in new family doctors and create or expand up to 18 primary care teams, it will take time for the province to see the impact of those actions. Meanwhile, addressing the administrative burden would help family doctors and their patients right now.
“On World Family Doctor Day, I’d like to recognize the foundational role that family doctors play in our health care system. Family doctors care deeply about our patients, but we unfortunately face significant, system-wide challenges in our day-to-day work. We need solutions to reduce our administrative burden in order to allow us to focus on spending quality time with our patients,” – Dr. Mekalai Kumanan, President, Ontario College of Family Physicians.
“World Family Doctor Day is an opportunity to celebrate the important work and contribution of family doctors. As we honour Ontario’s family doctors, the Ontario College of Family Physicians is also sounding the alarm on the extraordinary challenges they are facing. The Ontario Government has the ability to change the course of healthcare for millions of Ontarians and we are calling for immediate action,” – Ms. Kimberly Moran, CEO, Ontario College of Family Physicians.
“Family doctors are the bedrock of the health-care system, yet many are suffering from record levels of burnout, caused in large part by the demands of paperwork, electronic records that don’t speak to one another and other aspects of the administrative burden. We need to work with government to address these challenges today. Physician health is key to a sustainable, resilient health-care system that can provide the best patient care possible,” – Dr. Andrew Park, President, Ontario Medical Association.
“On this World Family Doctor Day, we celebrate the important role of family doctors in Ontario. The Section for General & Family Practice (SGFP) is also calling for immediate support to help family doctors so they can continue to provide quality health care that Ontarians need and expect. We need changes that family doctors and their patients will see and feel right away in their clinics,” – Dr. David Barber, Chair, Section for General & Family Practice (SGFP).
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About the Ontario College of Family Physicians
The OCFP represents more than 15,000 family doctors who support Ontarians in both urban and rural communities in our province. Our members have direct insight into the unique healthcare needs of Ontario’s varying populations. With their guidance, and together with our family physician members, the OCFP has developed three overarching solutions for Ontario parties to implement post-election that will increase access to care for more Ontarians.
Manager, Communications, OCFP