Doctors dealing with too much paperwork, time being wasted: new report
Doctors Manitoba says a new report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is shedding light on how much time is being wasted filling out needless paperwork.
On Monday, the CFIB released a new report called Patients Before Paperwork. The report says doctors across the country are spending around 18.5 million hours on unnecessary paperwork and administrative duties each year, which equals 55.6 million patient visits.
“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 Laura Jones, CFIB vice-president and co-author of the report, in a news release.
In Manitoba, CFIB said doctors are spending 591,000 hours per year filling out unnecessary paperwork, which is equal to 1.8 million patient visits.
Dr. Candace Bradshaw, the president of Doctors Manitoba, said paperwork can be soul-sucking and is a big reason for doctor burnout.
“The CFIB’s recommendations make a ton of sense to us. Measure the admin burden in our province, set a target to reduce, and set up oversight to ensure that it happens,” said Bradshaw.
As part of the report, CFIB said if the paperwork was cut by just 10 per cent, it could mean 5.5 million more patient visits throughout Canada, and in Manitoba, it would mean 177,000 more patient visits.
WHAT COUNTS AS UNNECESSARY PAPERWORK?
When asked what kind of paperwork could be deemed unnecessary by doctors, she said she had an example of it Monday morning.
“I was filling out getting exception drug status approved on a patient who will need the medication in question for the rest of her life. Each year this paperwork is necessary because they will only approve her one year at a time. That doesn’t make any sense to me, this is never going to change, she will always need this medication.”
Bradshaw also notes several forms include “strange” questions that she says are not needed and take up the time she could spend with patients.
“For every patient visit that I have, I would say 60 to 70 per cent of it involves administrative duty, seeing the patient being probably the smallest portion of that time,” said Bradshaw. “We went into medicine to become physicians and care for our patients. We did not go into medicine to do data entry and fill out form after form with redundant questions and things that could be managed much differently or perhaps sometimes even by somebody else in the care team.”
In the report, CFIB refers to Nova Scotia, as the province has set a target to reduce administrative work by 10 per cent by 2024. The province has already identified areas to improve and CFIB said other provinces and territories should follow suit.
Bradshaw said if there is a system that is working then it should be looked at to be used in Manitoba.
“Everything has to be provincially specific because what’s working there isn’t going to necessarily work as well here.”
She pointed to the fact that Manitoba has several health regions and if a form is filled out for the wrong region for a procedure, then the form is rejected and the doctor must start again.
“These are Manitoba-specific issues and we would definitely have to pay attention to those kinds of details to be successful.”
In a prepared statement to CTV News Winnipeg, the government said it is working with Doctors Manitoba to alleviate administrative burdens and an update will be provided in the near future.
“This initiative is part of our government’s $200 million health human resource action plan to add 2,000 health professionals to the system,” a government spokesperson said.
The entire report from CFIB has been viewed here.
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