After complaining and complaining even more about the poor service and advice I continuously receive from my family healthcare practitioner, I decided to do a little more research to find out why and try to explore opportunities on how to fix it!
I was quite astounded with what I found. Wanted to share my research findings and my thoughts:
Firstly, let’s look at how the compensation model for doctors works:
According to The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, the average family doctor makes $351,000/year. The compensation model is quite interesting. Forty-five (45%) percent of doctors (I believe this is all family doctors) are compensated by a fee-for-service model. Plain and simple, they make $25 per visit, regardless of how long the visit is; they also can make money through receiving a cut from referrals.
A closer look at the compensation model vs. the average annual compensation
Let’s use the average compensation number, rounded to $350,000 and dig deeper on what it takes to achieve this amount:
1) Let’s say approximately 15% of total compensation came from referrals. So, $50,000 of the total $350,000, leaving $300,000 to earn from patient visits
2) If they make $25/visit, they need 12,000 visits per year to reach $300,000
3) After vacation time, after 49 working weeks per year, working five days a week, a doctor would have to see app 245 patients a week, or 49 a day!
Based on these numbers, a doctor in Ontario needs to see an average of 49 clients per day to achieve the average compensation amount of $300,000.
No wonder I am always rushed out of the doctor’s office, no wonder it’s always full, no wonder he never does any research or provides alternatives, he doesn’t have the time!
The Improvement Opportunity
My no means do I want to sound ungrateful, I am a proud Canadian, and proud of the idea of a free healthcare system. However, there are some serious issues that need to be addressed. Because we don’t directly pay, I don’t believe that means we should be OK with receiving terrible service. Poor service from your healthcare practitioner and poor service from a cashier at Wal-mart are both irritating. However, one of them can possibly cost you your life, cause a unhealthy society, and ultimately cost the healthcare system more.
Healthcare practitioners play a vital role in the condition of our health, well-being, our futures, and our overall society. The fact that they are given hopes of a promising career, which will guarantee financial stability, seems to have led to doctors offices to over-commit to the number of patients they see to meet their sales targets, which is adversely affecting us all. They are left with little or no time to do research, talk to us to get to ensure the correct diagnosis is being recommended, speak to us about alternative medicine, perhaps even refer us to natural remedies because there’s no financial incentive in it for them. This is just scary! This is leading to misguided or the wrong diagnosis and confusion for the patient on what in fact is good for their health and what isn’t. I’ve heard many people tell me about medication they take, including medication with serious, long-term side-effects, for minor health issues. When I ask them, “why?” Their response, “My doctor recommended it.”
Aren’t we supposed to be able to trust our doctors? Aren’t healthcare practitioners supposed to help prevent illness, not just treat them? This requires more time and research, with the current compensation model, doctors may feel pressure to meet their targets, they may find it challenging to maintain the work-life balance, which is causing them to rush through seeing as many patients, causing society more harm than good!
The Ministry of Health needs to step in to introduce a metric in the compensation model that will measure the quality of service and delivery being offered.
What I did about it
I recently gave up on my family doctor for regular visits and started to see a naturopathic doctor. She reminded me of the importance of doctors and healthcare. She exceeds my expectations every time, goes out of her way to look for alternatives for me, and sends me e-mails messages, following up with me. Now, she may be an exception because of her genuine passion for her work, but my intention is to illustrate the difference and for you to imagine how our province would be with more doctors like her. The key difference: caring!
I think that there are many health practitioners that are still passionate about their vital role in saving lives and, more importantly preventing harm. They are not recognized enough for what they do. I want take this opportunity to thank them for what they do, not just for their individual patients, but for society and our world. They are truly inspiring people, and wonderful examples for entrepreneurs to emulate in terms of quality of customer service and doing your job to contribute to the common good of humankind, and think about how it impacts the world.
Copyright © Esha Abrol. Canada. September 2012