A B.C. family physician says patient relationships with doctors and overall care delivery are improving under the new payment model for practitioners.
Doctors of BC celebrated the first anniversary of the launch of the Longitudinal Family Physician Payment Model (LFP) in the province last week.
The payment model was introduced as an alternative to the fee-for-service model, and it compensates family physicians for time, patient interactions and the number and complexity of patients in their practice.
Doctors of BC say since its launch, 4,000 family doctors have enrolled in the model and around 500 of them are new to practice or newly billing MSP.
Dr. Jonathan Kerr says these numbers mean if the average practitioner has between 500 and 1,000 patients, thousands more now have a family doctor across the province.
“Many of these doctors were practicing, they were practicing in a different model that was more about how many patients you could see a day, but the new model really values the time spent with patients,” said Kerr.
Kerr says that patients value the relationships they have with their doctors, and from his experience, it helps him figure out what their needs and expectations are.
“That level of care increases and there’s less redundancy in tests, there’s less waiting for things and an overall more efficient and higher quality of care,” he said.
The model also helps work with the complexity of medicine now. Kerr says that as there is more technology, medications and investigations, it helps the physician spend the necessary time to do all the clinical work to benefit the patients.
“I really enjoy when a patient comes in and being able to tackle as many different issues as possible that they have and having the time and flexibility to do that with the patient,” said Kerr. “I’m not a big fan of the ‘one visit, one problem’ type of medicine. It doesn’t allow the patient to explain the two, three or four things going on with them.
“They might be connected. Physical health, mental health, social health, those are all often interconnected and by being able to address them together you can often get to the root of the issue.”
He adds one of his favourite things about his job under the new model is anxious patients can take their time and have the treatment that they need.
While more doctors have been recruited to the province, Kerr says there still needs to be more spaces made in schools for medical and getting international medical graduates “through the queue” so they can work.
He adds if you still need a family doctor, you should reach out and sign up on the patient health registry.