Paperwork costs Alberta doctors 2.1 million hours a year, CFIB report says

Doctor writing prescription

by Morinville Online Staff

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) suggests a 10% reduction in red tape equates to an estimated 656,361 patient visits per year. A new CFIB report, Patients Before Paperwork, released during their Red Tape Awareness Week, indicated doctors across Canada are spending approximately 18.5 million hours on unnecessary paperwork and administrative tasks each year, the equivalent of 55.6 million patient visits annually.

“Red tape hurts everyone, and we should be looking to reduce it wherever we can especially where it promises to free up time in areas we care about,” said the report-s co-author and CFIB Executive CVice-President Laura Jones. “Whether we are talking about healthcare availability or housing affordability, red tape reduction should be part of the solution. This is common sense that is too often overlooked.”

A recent CFIB survey indicated 88 per cent of small business owners said addressing health care challenges should be a top priority for governments. Other CFIB research found 89% of Canadians and 87% of business owners agree that governments should focus on reducing physician paperwork to free up time for more patient visits.

Some governments are already on board. The Nova Scotia government set a target to reduce physician administrative burden by 10% by 2024, which they estimate would free up 50,000 hours of physician time a year, or 150,000 patient visits. CFIB says the province has identified specific actions it will take to achieve this goal – for example, shortening or eliminating specific forms, and streamlining outdated processes to save doctors’ time.

“For years, medical associations have urged governments to address the physician administrative burden because of the negative impact it has on physicians and their patients,” said Dr. Candace Bradshaw, President of Doctors Manitoba. “Not only does red tape limit a physician’s ability to see their existing patients and take on new ones, it is also a significant cause of physician burnout, which is at an all-time high. Physicians appreciate the attention CFIB is bringing to this important topic, and we hope governments across Canada will act.”

CFIB is urging other provinces and territories to follow Nova Scotia’s lead and commit to measuring and reducing the physician red tape burden in their jurisdictions. Reducing physician red tape by 10% could save the equivalent of 5.5 million patient visits across Canada.

“Even a small reduction in the physician administrative burden can have a significant positive impact on the lives of Albertans, not to mention thousands of doctors,” said Andrew Sennyah, Alberta senior policy analyst. “Alberta’s health care system is facing many complex challenges but reducing physician red tape is one concrete and measurable step governments can take to avoid physician burnout and improve patient care.”

The full report is available here.

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