The province says that 1,043 physicians have signed up for the new payment system for family doctors and the president of Doctors BC predicts up to 60 per cent of eligible physicians will eventually take part.
“(There) are going to be early adopters and there (are) going to be people who hang back,” Dr. Joshua Greggain said during a news conference Wednesday (Feb. 1).
Health Minister Adrian Dix added about 6,800 physicians work in family practice across B.C., with nearly 4,000 doctors providing care to established rosters of patients in their communities.
Broken down by health authority: Fraser Health has 348 physicians signed up, 193 in Interior Health, 33 in Northern Health, 275 in Vancouver-Coastal Health and 194 in Island Health.
Dix said the number of doctors signed up so far is “fantastic” with more to join.
“I think they are breathtaking,” Dix said.
Greggain said the number of physicians signing up matters less than the care they provide.
“So I don’t have a number to say, ‘We want X. What we want is every physician to be able to have the choice, which they have today and everyone to have the opportunity to have a family physician,” he said. “So the number is inconsequential. It’s really whatever it takes to make this a reality.”
He said that the new model represents a “transformational” change in the delivery of family care.
Beginning on Feb. 1, full-time family physicians who sign up for the new model will make $385,000 per year. This figure is based on a doctor working 1,680 hours, holding a roster of 1,250 patients with average complexity and completing 5,000 visits a year.
The new model replaces the previous fee-for-service system, which paid doctors around $30 per visit, regardless of its complexity or length and regardless of how much time they spend on patients outside their actual appointments.
Family physicians said the model has left them underpaid and burned out.
The new payment model considers the number of patients that physicians see in a day, the size and complexity of patient rosters and time spent on providing direct clinical care, indirect clinical care and administrative tasks.
Dix said that the new approach has taken a lot of preparation, but promises to transform the system over time.
“The core of this model is to respect the work that doctors do, including the administrative work and other work that they need to do. The core of it is to respect the complexity of care of individual patients and of course we will be working through that in practice now that the agreement is in place.”