Statement from Ontario's Doctors to the Drummond Report
Feb. 15, 2012 - Don Drummond, a recognized economist and the Chair of the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services has made a number of recommendations regarding the health care system. The future of and the sustainability of health care in this province is a crucial issue. The doctors of Ontario and the OMA welcome a thoughtful and thorough discussion about improvements to the health care system.
While we need to consider the recommendations carefully, it’s important to note that Mr. Drummond’s work focused solely on balancing the provincial budget. Economists look at things very differently than doctors do. As doctors, we will focus on patients, improving their health and well-being and ensuring they have access to the right care when they’re sick. It will be important to strike the appropriate balance between finding efficiencies and protecting patient care.
Doctors were pleased to note that the report calls for the expansion of Family Health Teams, that physicians should be actively engaged in LHIN decision making, that electronic health records need to be integrated across the system, and that more procedures should be done out of hospital.
The report suggests more physicians should be involved in information technology and more doctors should be practicing in groups. There has been great progress on both these fronts as there over 7 million patients who are covered by an electronic medical record, which are being managed by over 7,000 physicians and over 9 million patients are enrolled in primary care groups along with over 9,000 physicians.
In addition, the report also suggests that doctors in Ontario are the highest paid in the country. However, the Canadian Institute for Health Information has evidence that suggests otherwise. CIHI states the average gross payment for a family doctor in Ontario ranks 8th out of 10 provinces and is below the national average. Overall, the average gross payment for a physician in Ontario ranks 7th out of the 10 provinces.
Doctors are well aware of the fiscal pressures that the government is facing provincially. That’s why we have already offered several meaningful suggestions that identify efficiencies that do not negatively impact on patients. To date, we have found over $240 million in savings that do not impact patient care. We look forward to continuing this important work with the government.
Ontario’s doctors have been leaders when it comes to putting forward solutions to address challenges in the health care system. Ontario’s doctors will continue to work the government to develop a comprehensive system that will improve patients’ access to quality health care and will also result in the best outcomes for patients.
Stewart Kennedy, MD
Ontario Medical Association