Doctors' work environment: the real problem of access

MONTREAL, Aug. 31, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ - An investigation by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) among the medical profession confirms that their work environment makes doctors less productive.

As part of this investigation, over 7,000 doctors responded to a survey on various topics related to their practice, including their work hours, job satisfaction and access to services.

Conducted by the CMA, the survey is the first edition of a new version of the National Physician Survey. Various trends emerged from the survey, which contained questions that had been asked to doctors since 2004.

Although Quebec doctors see fewer patients than their counterparts in Canada, they work almost as many hours. They are, in fact, those whose workload has increased the most over the last two years (more than 27% compared to about 20.6% on average in Canada). They are also fewer in having reduced their practice hours (close to 24% in Quebec compared to 30% in some provinces).

In addition, Quebec doctors, who are very present in hospitals, are more on duty with direct care provided to patients: about 52 hours per month compared to 38 hours on average in Canada. Quebec doctors spend the least time in their office and most often see patients at the hospital. To respond to pressure from the population for better access, successive governments have imposed constant reforms to doctors for a decade, pushing them to the ER before having them come back to their office.

However, this situation is the result of organizational problems, as determined by the Quebec Medical Association (QMA) a few years ago. The government must work with doctors to obtain more solid data on what needs to be transformed and change practices.

Even though Quebec has partly caught up on the computerization front, the survey confirms that Quebec doctors do not have the technological tools they require to be as productive as doctors elsewhere in Canada.

"While Quebec doctors are increasing their work hours, the difficulty they have referring their patients to colleagues or obtaining information with an efficient medical record prevents them from seeing the same number of patients as their counterparts elsewhere in Canada," states QMA President Dr. Hugo Viens. "However, doctors are part of the solution. They must be involved in the restructuring of the healthcare system." Dr. Viens added.


About the QMA

The Quebec Medical Association comprises nearly 11,000 general practitioners, specialists, residents and medical students. Its mission is to bring together members of the Quebec medical community in a context that promotes reflection and action in the best interest of the health of Quebecers.