Quebec doctors collectively spend 4.4 million hours a year on redundant administrative tasks, according to a new report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
“Patients Before the Paperwork,” a document released Monday, shows that across the country, Canadian doctors collectively spend about 18.5 million hours a year on paperwork. Ontario (6.8 million hours) leads this sad finding, while British Columbia (2.6 million hours) ranks third.
The term “red tape” refers to administrative tasks that are considered redundant, that do not require the physician’s clinical expertise (and therefore can be performed by someone else), or that are completely unnecessary and can be eliminated.
In addition to being a cause of fatigue and burnout, “these tasks interfere with care by reducing the time doctors spend with their patients and the number of new patients they can take on”, perhaps we read in the document.
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Reducing administrative burden is a priority
CFIB ratings are based on data from a 2020 survey conducted in Nova Scotia. Following the report, the country pledged to reduce its doctors’ administrative burden by 10%, or about 50,000 hours, equivalent to 150,000 consultations by 2024.
According to the CFIB, by setting the same target (-10%), Canada could save the equivalent of 5.5 million consultations per year.
In Quebec, the total number of consultations scheduled annually by eliminating physicians’ documentation will reach approximately 13.2 million. This time savings would be equivalent to adding 1,684 doctors to the Quebec health system and 7,052 doctors nationwide.
Measure to set a goal
“Reducing the administrative burden on doctors is a concrete and measurable step that governments can take,” the CFIB said.
In particular, it recommends that other provincial and territorial administrations, in conjunction with their respective medical associations, measure this administrative burden in order to set reduction targets. Then delegate these tasks to a team deemed redundant or to a person with the resources to accomplish them.
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