National physicians surveys : results that recognize the solutions advocated by the QMA

For immediate release

HEALTH CARE ACCESSIBILITY PROBLEMS: THE QMA RESPONSE

Montréal, June 29, 2011 – The survey conducted by the Canadian Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada brought to light one of the main causes behind the health care accessibility problem: the increase in the number of patients with chronic diseases.

Although it is aware of the impact this issue has on the population and the work of physicians, the Québec Medical Association (QMA) would like to recall that Québec has the means to improve the situation. In fact, compared to the rest of Canada, Québec has the most physicians who are willing to accept new patients. The numbers speak for themselves, with 66% saying they are ready to take more patients.

The QMA has been interested in the phenomenon of chronic diseases for several years now and has organized conferences and debates on the issue. “Moreover, the QMA initiated fact-finding and observation missions to Vancouver and Cleveland this spring to take a look at efficient models that could be transferred to Québec,” recalled the QMA’s president, Dr. Ruth Vander Stelt. The reflection that started some time ago is already turning into courses of action.

The QMA feels that a major adaptation of how health care services are organized is an essential condition for meeting this very real challenge proactively. The key to success: an efficient, well-coordinated organization of primary care medical and professional services with a team around the patient.

In its missions to Cleveland and Vancouver, the QMA observed that family physicians working in private practice must be supported by an interdisciplinary team on site (or nearby) and work with efficient tools to ensure systematic follow-up with chronically ill patients. Information systems must continue to be integrated into practices to increase work efficiency and promote health care management for the entire population, especially for people suffering from chronic diseases.

“Patients and their loved ones also play a prominent role in chronic disease management, and in turn, in the solutions related to the problem of health care accessibility. Education and promoting healthy lifestyles are part of it,” pointed out the QMA’s president. In fact, by participating actively in decision-making and applying their care and follow-up plan, patients become real partners in monitoring their state of health, and the number of hospital visits decreases.

Physicians’ pay is also an inescapable factor in the suggested solutions. Discussions under way between the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux and the Federation of General Practitioners of Québec give us hope that significant changes will be made to adapt pay better to the management of chronic disease. Many organizational models have already shown that financial incentives contribute to greater accessibility and continuity in patient monitoring. These same incentives can also encourage physicians to see more so-called “vulnerable” patients and to work with an interdisciplinary team.


National Physician Survey: results that recognize the solutions advocated by the QMA

For Québec, 18% of general practitioners and 14% of specialists answered the survey, which shows that interest in the issues raised is high.

One finding highlighted by the survey results is that medical and hospital practices are very different between Québec and the other provinces. For example, 34% of Canadian physicians work primarily in a hospital centre, whereas this is the case for 47% of physicians in Québec. Consequently, Québec physicians naturally have less time for clinical practice, underlining the primary importance that must be given to transforming the organization of health care.
 
Another striking element is that only 24% of physicians in Québec say they work in environments that are connected by information technology. Incidentally, more than three quarters of them felt they did not know enough about the state of health of their population with chronic diseases. These latest figures highlight the importance of implementing electronic records in order to circulate the information on the state of health of patients and thereby increase the efficiency of monitoring them.

The QMA regroups around 10,000 general practitioners, specialists, residents and medical students. Its motto of "Doctors in action" illustrates its mission to bring together the members of Québec's medical community to improve the conditions for practicing medicine and the health of Québec's population.


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Source:   Direction of Public Affairs
              Québec Medical Association

Information:   Annabelle Beaudry
                     Communications Adviser
                     514 866-0660 ext. 242
                     annabelle.beaudry@amq.ca