Family physicians are skilled generalists who provide high-quality, community responsive, and adaptive care across the life cycle, yet too much of their time is spent on administrative tasks and paperwork.1,2,3 Given that almost five million Canadians are without a family doctor and many family doctors are experiencing exhaustion and burnout,4 their time could be better used for what they do best: direct patient care.
When family doctors spend more time on work they find less meaningful, they are at a higher risk for burnout and exiting practice.5 In a 2021 survey College of Family Physicians of Canada™ (CFPC) members ranked additional administrative support as the top target for additional investment to enhance access to care for their patients while reducing their stress levels.4 Examples of administrative burden include a lack of integration of electronic medical records across practices, tracking down results of lab and diagnostic tests, billing, and other day-to-day administrative and clerical tasks.
As family physicians across Canada are reporting growing levels of burnout and the need for their services outstrips the available supply, it is imperative that governments on all levels urgently create solutions that provide dedicated additional supports to family practices, freeing up their capacity for additional patient care and enhancing their work conditions.
The CFPC advocates for increased administrative support for family physicians:
- In 2022 the CFPC partnered with the Canadian Nurses Association and the Canadian Medical Association to provide policy recommendations to the Standing Committee on Health (HESA) to address the crisis in health and human resources in Canada, including recommendations to:
- Address the administrative burden through a new health workers support fund to improve the well-being of providers and to support retention
- In 2022 the CFPC testified to the HESA on April 4th and May 9th to address the crisis in health and human resources in Canada, focusing on the need for increased administrative support
- In 2022 the CFPC submitted a series of recommendations to inform the federal government’s 2022 budget, including prioritizing the retention of the current workforce by providing immediate support to family practices to reduce administrative workload and increase available time for direct patient care
- The CFPC has also hosted a series of meetings with elected leaders highlighting the key requirement of urgent dedicated administrative support for family practices
1 Doctors Nova Scotia. Physician Administrative Burden Survey – Final Report [PowerPoint slides]; 2020. Accessed August 10, 2022. https://doctorsns.com/sites/default/files/2020-11/admin-burden-survey-results.pdf
2 Leger L. The Pain of Paperwork Comes in Many Forms. Med Post. 2022; April:17-21. Accessed August 10, 2022. https://www.ontariomd.ca/articlesdocumentlibrary/the%20pain%20of%20paperwork%20comes%20in%20many%20forms.pdf
3 CBC News. Burden of paperwork, complex patients a struggle for this family doctor. CBC News. September 19, 2019. Accessed August 10, 2022. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/family-physician-interview-1.5289906
4 College of Family Physicians of Canada, Nanos. In-person care currently available to book with over nine in ten CFPC physicians; almost one in two of those say it is available with no restrictions. [PowerPoint slides]; 2021. Accessed August 10, 2022. https://nanos.co/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/2021-2019A-CFPC-Member-Survey-Populated-Report-Access-with-Tabs.pdf
5 Guck AJ, Buck K. Reducing clinician inefficiency and restoring meaning in practice: A professional coaching approach for family medicine residents. Int J Psychiatry Med. 2021;56(5):319-326.