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CMA's submission to Finance Canada's consultation on ensuring the ongoing strength of Canada's retirement income system

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy9807
Date
2010-05-07
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
  1 document  
Policy Type
Response to consultation
Date
2010-05-07
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Text
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is pleased to participate in the Government of Canada's consultation on ensuring the ongoing strength of Canada's retirement income system. Ensuring sufficient income in retirement is a concern for CMA's more than 72,000 physician members and the patients they serve. With the aging of the Canadian population and the decline in the number of Canadians participating in employer-sponsored pension plans, now is the time to explore strengthening the third pillar of Canada's government-supported retirement income system: tax-assisted savings opportunities. Two areas in need of government attention are tax-assisted savings vehicles for high-earning and self-employed Canadians, and vehicles available to help Canadians save to meet future continuing care needs. Like the Canadian population at large, physicians represent an aging demographic - 38% of Canada's physicians are 55 or older - for whom retirement planning is an important concern. In addition, the vast majority of CMA members are self-employed physicians and, as such, they are unable to participate in workplace registered pension plans (RPPs). This makes physicians more reliant on Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) relative to other retirement savings vehicles. As we saw during the recent economic downturn, the volatility of global financial markets can have an enormous impact on the value of RRSPs over the short- and medium-term. This variability is felt most acutely when RRSPs reach maturity during a time of declining market returns and RRSP holders are forced to 'sell low'. The possibility that higher-earning Canadians, such as physicians, may not be saving enough for retirement was raised by Jack Mintz, Research Director for the Research Working Group on Retirement Income Adequacy of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers of Finance. In his Summary Report on Retirement Income Adequacy Research, Mr. Mintz reported that income replacement rates in retirement fall below 60% of after-tax income for about 35% of Canadians in the top income quintile. This is due to the effect of the maximum RPP/RRSP dollar limits, which is why the government should consider raising these limits. The CMA supports exploring ways to expand tax-assisted options available for retirement saving, particularly measures that would allow organizations to sponsor RPPs and Supplementary Employee Retirement Plans (SERPs) on behalf of the self-employed. Such changes could allow the growing ranks of self-employed Canadians to benefit from the security and peace of mind already available to Canadians with workplace pensions. CMA members favour a voluntary approach, both for employers/plan sponsors in deciding whether to sponsor such plans and for potential plan participants in choosing whether or not to participate. Just as the government should explore ways to modernize the rules governing registered pension plans to account for today's demographics and employment structures, so too should it explore ways to help Canadians save for their continuing care - including home care and long-term care - needs. When universal, first-dollar coverage of hospital and physician services-commonly known as 'medicare' - was implemented in Canada in the late-1950s and 1960s, health care within an institutional setting was the norm and life expectancy was almost a decade shorter than it is today. With Canadians living longer and continuing care falling outside the boundaries of Canada Health Act first-dollar coverage, there is a growing need to help Canadians save for their home care and long-term care needs. The attached backgrounder highlights the pressing need for greater support for home and long-term care in Canada, as well as some principles and options for governments to help Canadians pay for these services. It should be noted that the introduction of Tax-free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) in the 2008 federal budget created a new savings vehicle to support Canadians' continuing care needs. The CMA was pleased to see its introduction. Government action on these two related issues would benefit all Canadians. Expanding retirement-saving options for physicians would provide a strong incentive for physicians to stay in Canada. Similarly, by helping Canadians save for their own continuing care needs, governments could contribute to the health of elderly citizens and ease the demand on unpaid caregivers and government-funded continuing care. Ensuring that Canadians have the tools at their disposal to save for their continuing care needs and that Canada's physicians have the right tools to save for retirement are important issues for the CMA. Canada's physicians have long been active on these issues and government action on these files would benefit all Canadians. We are pleased to take part in Finance Canada's consultations and would welcome any further opportunities to participate. Sincerely, Anne Doig, MD, CCFP, FCFP President
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Response to the consultation paper Pension Innovation for Canadians: The Target benefit plan

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11213
Date
2014-06-23
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
  1 document  
Policy Type
Response to consultation
Date
2014-06-23
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Text
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is pleased to provide the comments below in response to Finance Canada's consultation document Pension Innovation for Canadians: The Target Benefit Plan. The CMA is the professional voluntary association representing over 80,000 physicians across Canada. Its mission is to serve and unite the physicians of Canada and to be the national advocate, in partnership with the people of Canada, for the highest standards of health and health care. The CMA has participated in, and made recommendations to, Finance Canada over the course of the government's multi-year consultation process on Canada's pension framework. Indeed, in light of the importance of the pension framework to our membership, the CMA has been an active participant in previous consultations regarding the pension framework. The CMA's participation in the current, multi-year initiative included responding to the 2010 consultative paper Ensuring the Ongoing Strength of Canada's Retirement Income System as well as participating in the legislative and regulatory consultation on the Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP) framework. While the CMA recognizes that this consultation is focused narrowly on the federally regulated pension plans governed by the Pension Benefits Standards Act 1985, the CMA supports additional consultation on Canada's pension framework. The CMA recommends that Finance Canada expand its consultation to explore options to address weaknesses in Canada's pension framework, including a focus on the third pillar: tax-incentivized savings vehicles. As part of a consultation on the third pillar, the CMA recommends that Finance Canada explore three issues, as elaborated further below: * Increasing the combined contribution limit for registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs); * Enabling well-governed professional organizations that represent a particular membership as pension plan sponsors; and, * Possible impacts of registered retirement income funds (RRIF) mandatory drawdown rates. Like the Canadian population at large, physicians represent an aging demographic - 42% of Canada's physicians are 55 or older - for whom retirement planning is an important concern. In addition, the vast majority of CMA members are self-employed physicians and, as such, they are unable to participate in workplace registered pension plans (RPPs). This makes physicians more reliant on Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) relative to other retirement savings vehicles. The Summary Report on Retirement Income Adequacy Research presented to the F/P/T Ministers of Finance in 2009, suggests that higher-earning Canadians may not be saving enough for retirement. This report highlighted that income replacement rates in retirement fall below 60 per cent of after-tax income for about 35 per cent of Canadians in the upper income quintile. This is related to the effect of maximum contribution limits on tax-incentivized retirement savings vehicles. Tax-incentivized private saving vehicles are a critical element of Canada's pension framework. As highlighted in the 2010 interim report of the Senate Banking Trade and Commerce Canadians Savings for Their Future: A Secure Retirement, the introduction of the RRSP framework in 1957 sought to address a tax inequity due to the ineligibility of private savings for tax-incentive in comparison with registered pension plans. From 1972 to 1991 the RRSP contribution limit was set at 20 percent of earned income and in 1991, the government reduced the contribution limit to 18 percent of earned income; further, over this time period the real value of the absolute dollar limit reduced significantly. Recent increases to the absolute dollar limits have been strongly welcomed. To ensure that contribution limits do not pose a barrier to saving for future retirement income needs, the CMA recommends that Finance Canada initiate a consultation on future increases to the RRSP contribution limit, both absolute and percent of earned income. As part of the 2010 Finance Canada consultation and as reiterated during the legislative and regulatory consultation period on the PRPP framework, the CMA highlighted its support for exploring measures to enable organizations to sponsor plans on behalf of the self-employed. During the PRPP consultation, the CMA recommended amending the legislation such that well-governed professional organizations representing a particular membership are able to sponsor and administer PRPPs for their own members, including self-employed members. Once again, the CMA supports an extension of this recommendation to the broader pension framework. Finally, the CMA has taken note of the concerns regarding the registered retirement income funds (RRIF) mandatory drawdown rates expressed in the C.D. Howe Institute's recent pension policy e-brief Outliving our savings: Registered retirement income funds rules need a big update. The CMA recommends that Finance Canada include RRIF mandatory drawdown rates as part of a consultation. The CMA appreciates the opportunity to provide comment as part of Finance Canada's consultation on enabling target benefit plans within the federally regulated pension framework. The CMA supports further consultation on Canada's pension plan with an aim to ensure optimization of the third pillar, tax-incentivized savings vehicles, to ensure it enables adequate savings levels by self-employed individuals for their future retirement income needs.
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Guiding principles for physicians recommending mobile health applications to patients

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11521
Date
2015-05-30
Topics
Health information and e-health
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Date
2015-05-30
Topics
Health information and e-health
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Text
GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR PHYSICIANS RECOMMENDING MOBILE HEALTH APPLICATIONS TO PATIENTS This document is designed to provide basic information for physicians about how to assess a mobile health application for recommendation to a patient in the management of that patient's health, health care, and health care information. These guiding principles build on the Canadian Medical Association's (CMA) Physician Guidelines for Online Communication with Patients.1 Background * Mobile health applications, distinct from regulated medical devices, may be defined as an application on a mobile device that is intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. The functions of these applications may include: o The ability to store and track information about an individual or group's health or the social determinants thereof; o Periodic educational information, reminders, or motivational guidance; o GPS location information to direct or alert patients; o Standardized checklists or questionnaires.2 * Mobile health applications can enhance health outcomes while mitigating health care costs because of their potential to improve a patient's access to information and care providers.3 * Mobile health applications are most commonly used on a smart phone and/or tablet. Some may also interface with medical devices. * The use of mobile health applications reflects an emerging trend towards personalized medicine and patient involvement in the management of their health information. By 2016, 142 million health apps will have been downloaded.4 According to some industry estimates, by 2018, 50 percent of the more than 3.4 billion smartphone and tablet users worldwide will have downloaded at least one mobile health application.5 * While mobile health application downloads are increasing, there is little information about usage and adherence by patients. It is believed that many patients cease to use a mobile health application soon after downloading it. * Distributers of mobile health applications do not currently assess content provided by mobile health applications for accuracy, comprehensiveness, reliability, timeliness, or conformity to clinical practice guidelines.6 However, mobile applications may be subjected to certain standards to ensure critical technical requirements such as accessibility, reachability, adaptability, operational reliability, and universality. * Increasingly there are independent websites providing reviews of medical apps and checklists for health care professionals. However, the quality criteria used by these sites, potential conflicts of interest, and the scope and number of mobile apps assessed are not always declared by these groups. To date, randomized controlled trials are not usually employed to assess the effectiveness of mobile health applications. Some believe that the rigorousness of this type of assessment may impede the timeliness of a mobile health application's availability.7 * Some examples of the uses of mobile health applications include tracking fitness activities to supplement a healthy lifestyle; supported self-management of health and health information; post-procedure follow up; viewing of test results; and the virtualization of interaction between patients and providers, such as remote patient monitoring for chronic disease management. Some mobile health applications may be linked to a patient profile or patient portal associated with a professional or recognized association or medical society or health care organization. * Some mobile health applications may be an extension of an electronic medical records (EMR) platform. Guiding principles * The objective of recommending a mobile health application to a patient must be to enhance the safety and/or effectiveness of patient care or otherwise for the purpose of health promotion. * A mobile health application is one approach in health service delivery. Mobile health applications should complement, rather than replace, the relationship between a physician and patient. * No one mobile health application is appropriate for every patient. Physicians may wish to understand a patient's abilities, comfort level, access to technology, and the context of the application of care before recommending a mobile health application. * Should a physician recommend a mobile health application to a patient, it is the responsibility of the physician to do so in a way that adheres to legislation and regulation (if existing) and/or professional obligations. * If the mobile health application will be used to monitor the patient's condition in an ongoing manner, the physician may wish to discuss with the patient what they should watch for and the steps they should take in response to information provided. * Physicians are encouraged to share information about applications they have found effective with colleagues. * Physicians who require additional information about the competencies associated with eHealth and the use of health information technologies may wish to consult The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada's (RCPSC) framework of medical competencies, CanMEDS.8 * Physicians may wish to enter into and document a consent discussion with their patient, which can include the electronic management of health information or information printed out from electronic management platforms like mobile health applications. This agreement may include a one-time conveyance of information and recommendations to cover the elements common to many mobile health applications, such as the general risk to privacy associated with storing health information on a mobile device. Characteristics of a safe and effective mobile health application A mobile health application does not need to have all of the following characteristics to be safe and effective. However, the more of the following characteristics a mobile health application has, the likelier it will be appropriate for recommendation to a patient: 1. Endorsement by a professional or recognized association or medical society or health care organization As recommended by the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA), it is best to select mobile health applications that have been created or endorsed by a professional or recognized association or medical society.9 Some health care organizations, such as hospitals, may also develop or endorse applications for use in their clinical environments. There may also be mobile health applications associated with an EMR platform used by an organization or practice. Finally, some mobile health applications may have been subject to a peer review process distinct from endorsement by an association or organization. 2. Usability There are a number of usability factors than can complicate the use of mobile applications, including interface and design deficiencies, technological restrictions, and device and infrastructure malfunction. Many developers will release periodic updates and software patches to enhance the stability and usability of their applications. Therefore, it would be prudent for the physician recommending the mobile health application to also recommend to the patient that they determine if the application has been updated within the last year. Physicians considering recommending a mobile health application to a patient may wish to ask about the patient's level of comfort with mobile health technologies, their degree of computer literacy, whether or not the patient owns a mobile device capable of running the application, and whether or not the patient is able to bear potential one-time or ongoing costs associated with use of the application. Physicians may consider testing the application themselves beforehand to understand whether its functionality and interface make it easy to use. 3. Reliability of information Physicians considering recommending a mobile health application may wish to understand how the patient intends to use the information, and/or review the information with the patient to understand whether it is current and appropriate. Information presented by the mobile health application should be appropriately referenced and time-stamped with the last update by the application developer. 4. Privacy and security There are inherent security risks when a patient uses mobile health applications or enters sensitive information into their mobile device. Mobile devices can be stolen, and the terms of use for mobile health applications may include provisions for the sharing of information with the application developer and other third-parties, identified or un-identified, for commercial purposes. In 2014, the Officer of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta assessed approximately 1200 mobile applications and found nearly one-third of them required access to personal information beyond what should be required relative to their functionality and purpose, and that basic privacy information was not always made available.10 Physicians entering into and documenting a consent discussion with their patients may wish to include the electronic management of health information in the scope of these discussions, and make a notation of the discussion in the patient's health record. If physicians have not entered into and documented a general consent discussion, they may wish to indicate to the patient that there are security risks associated with mobile health applications, and recommend that the patient avail themselves of existing security features on their device. Physicians may wish to recommend to the patient that they determine whether a privacy policy has been made available which discloses how data is collected by the application and used by the developer, or a privacy impact assessment, which demonstrates the risks associated with the use of the application. Some mobile health applications may feature additional levels of authentication for use, such as an additional password or encryption protocols. If all other factors between applications are equal, physicians may wish to recommend that patients use mobile health applications adhering to this higher standard of security. 5. Avoids conflict-of-interest Physicians may wish to recommend that patients learn more about the company or organization responsible for the development of the application and their mandate. There is a risk of secondary gains by mobile health application developers and providers where information about patients and/or usage is gathered and sold to third parties. A standardized conflict of interest statement may be made available through the mobile health application or on the developer's website. If so, physicians may wish to refer the patient to this resource. Physicians who develop mobile applications for commercial gain or have a stake in those who develop applications for commercial gain may risk a complaint being made to the College on the basis that the physician engaged in unprofessional conduct if they recommend mobile health applications to their patients in the course of patient care. 6. Does not contribute to fragmentation of health information Some mobile health applications may link directly to an EMR, patient portal, or government data repository. These data resources may be standardized, linked, and cross-referenced. However, health information entered into an application may also be stored on a mobile device and/or the patient's home computer, or developers of mobile health applications may store information collected by their application separately. While there may be short-term benefits to using a particular mobile health application, the range of applications and developers may contribute to the overall fragmentation of health information. If all other factors between applications are considered equal, physicians may wish to recommend mobile health applications which contribute to robust existing data repositories, especially an existing EMR. 7. Demonstrates its impact on patient health outcomes While not all mobile health applications will have an appropriate scale of use and not all developers will have the capacity to collect and analyze data, physicians may wish to recommend mobile health applications that have undergone validation testing to demonstrate impact of use on patient health outcomes. If mobile health applications are claiming a direct therapeutic impact on patient populations, physicians may wish to recommend that their patients seek out or request resources to validate this claim. References 1 Canadian Medical Association. Physician guidelines for online communication with patients. Ottawa: The Association; 2005. Available: http://policybase.cma.ca/dbtw-wpd/PolicyPDF/PD05-03.pdf?_ga=1.32127742.1313872127.1393248073 2 US Food and Drug Administration, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. Mobile medical applications: guidance for industry and Food and Drug Administration staff. Rockville (MD): The Administration; 2015. Available: www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/.../UCM263366.pdf 3 Canada Health Infoway. Mobile health computing between clinicians and patients. White paper. Toronto: The Infoway; 2014 Apr. Available: www.infoway-inforoute.ca/index.php/resources/video-gallery/doc_download/2081-mobile-health-computing-between-clinicians-and-patients-white-paper-full-report 4 iHealthBeat. 44M mobile health apps will be downloaded in 2012, report predicts. Available: www.ihealthbeat.org/articles/2011/12/1/44m-mobile-health-apps-will-be-downloaded-in-2012-report-predicts 5 Jahns R-G. 500m people will be using healthcare mobile applications in 2015. Research2guidance. Available: www.research2guidance.com/500m-people-will -be-using-healthcare-mobile-applications-in-2015/ 6 Lyver, M. Standards: a call to action. Future Practice. 2013 Nov. Available: www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/about-us/FP-November2013-e.pdf 7 Rich P. Medical apps: current status. Future Practice 2013 Nov. Available: www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/about-us/FP-November2013-e.pdf 8 Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The CanMEDS 2015 eHealth Expert Working Group report. Ottawa: The College; 2014. Available: www.royalcollege.ca/portal/page/portal/rc/common/documents/canmeds/framework/ehealth_ewg_report_e.pdf 9 Canadian Medical Protective Association. Managing information to delivery safer care. Ottawa: The Association; 2013. Available: https://oplfrpd5.cmpa-acpm.ca/en/duties-and-responsibilities/-/asset_publisher/bFaUiyQG069N/content/managing-information-to-deliver-safer-care 10 Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta. Global privacy sweep rasies concerns about mobile apps [news release]. Available: www.oipc.ab.ca/downloads/documentloader.ashx?id=3482
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Avoiding negative consequences to health care delivery from federal taxation policy

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11957
Date
2016-08-31
Topics
Health human resources
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
  1 document  
Policy Type
Response to consultation
Date
2016-08-31
Topics
Health human resources
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Text
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) provides this submission in response to Finance Canada’s consultation on Legislative Proposals Relating to Income Tax, Sales Tax and Excise Duties (Draft Tax Legislative Proposals). The CMA is the national voice of Canadian physicians. On behalf of its more than 83,000 members and the Canadian public, the CMA’s mission is helping physicians care for patients. In fulfillment of this mission, the CMA’s role is focused on national, pan-Canadian health advocacy and policy priorities. As detailed in this brief, the CMA is gravely concerned that by capturing group medical structures in the application of Clause 13 of the Draft Tax Legislative Proposals, the federal government will inadvertently negatively affect medical research, medical training and education as well as access to care. To ensure that the unintended consequences of this federal tax policy change do not occur, the CMA is strongly recommending that the federal government exempt group medical and health care delivery from the proposed changes to s.125 of the Income Tax Act regarding multiplication of access to the small business deduction in Clause 13 of the Draft Tax Legislative Proposals. Relevance of the Canadian Controlled Private Corporation Framework to Medical Practice Canada’s physicians are highly skilled professionals, providing an important public service and making a significant contribution to our country’s knowledge economy. Due to the design of Canada’s health care system, a large majority of physicians – more than 90% – are self-employed professionals and effectively small business owners. As self-employed small business owners, physicians typically do not have access to pensions or health benefits, although they are responsible for these benefits for their employees. Access to the Canadian-Controlled Private Corporation (CCPC) framework and the Small Business Deduction (SBD) are integral to managing a medical practice in Canada. It is imperative to recognize that physicians cannot pass on any increased costs, such as changes to CCPC framework and access to the SBD, onto patients, as other businesses would do with clients. In light of the unique business perspectives of medical practice, the CMA strongly welcomed the federal recognition in the 2016 budget of the value that health care professionals deliver to communities across Canada as small business operators. Contrary to this recognition, the 2016 budget also introduced a proposal to alter eligibility to the small business deduction that will impact physicians incorporated in group medical structures. What’s at risk: Contribution of group medical structures to health care delivery The CMA estimates that approximately 10,000 to 15,000 physicians will be affected by this federal taxation proposal. If implemented, this federal taxation measure will negatively affect group medical structures in communities across Canada. By capturing group medical structures, this proposal also introduces an inequity amongst incorporated physicians, and incentivizes solo practice, which counters provincial and territorial health delivery priorities. Group medical structures are prevalent within academic health science centres and amongst certain specialties, notably oncology, anaesthesiology, radiology, and cardiology. Specialist care has become increasingly sub-specialized. For many specialties, it is now standard practice for this care to be provided by teams composed of numerous specialists, sub-specialists and allied health care providers. Team-based care is essential for educating and training medical students and residents in teaching hospitals, and for conducting medical research. Put simply, group medical structures have not been formed for taxation or commercial purposes. Rather, group medical structures were formed to deliver provincial and territorial health priorities, primarily in the academic health setting, such as teaching, medical research as well as optimizing the delivery of patient care. Over many years, and even decades, provincial and territorial governments have been supporting and encouraging the delivery of care through team-based models. To be clear, group medical structures were formed to meet health sector priorities; they were not formed for business purposes. It is equally important to recognize that group medical structures differ in purpose and function from similar corporate or partnership structures seen in other professions. Unlike most other professionals, physicians do not form these structures for the purpose of enhancing their ability to earn profit. It is critical for Finance Canada to acknowledge that altering eligibility to the small business deduction will have more significant taxation implication than simply the 4.5% difference in the small business versus general rate at the federal level. It would be disingenuous for Finance Canada to attempt to argue that removing full access to the small business deduction for incorporated physicians in group medical structures will be a minor taxation increase. As taxation policy experts, Finance Canada is aware that this change will impact provincial/territorial taxation, as demonstrated below in Table 1. Table 1: Taxation impacts by province/territory, if the federal taxation proposal is implemented In Nova Scotia, for example, approximately 60% of specialist physicians practice in group medical structures. If the federal government applies this taxation proposal to group medical structures, these physicians will face an immediate 17.5% increase in taxation. In doing so, the federal government will establish a strong incentive for these physicians to move away from team-based practice to solo practice. If this comes to pass, the federal government may be responsible for triggering a reorganization of medical practice in Nova Scotia. Excerpts from physician communiques The CMA has received as well as been copied on a significant volume of correspondence from across our membership conveying deep concern with the federal taxation proposal. To provide an illustration of the risks of this proposal to health care, below are excerpts from some of these communiques:
“Our Partnership was formed in the 1970s…The mission of the Partnership is to achieve excellence in patient care, education and research activities….there would be a serious adverse effect on retention and recruitment if members do not have access to the full small business deduction…The changes will likely result in pressure to dissolve the partnership and revert to the era of departments services by independent contractors with competing individual financial interests.” Submitted to the CMA April 15, 2016 from a member of the Anesthesia Associates of the Ottawa Hospital General Campus
“The University of Ottawa Heart Institute is an academic health care institution dedicated to patient care, research and medical education…To support what we call our “academic mission,” cardiologists at the institute have formed an academic partnership…If these [taxation] changes go forward they will crippled the ability of groups such as ours to continue to function and will have a dramatic negative impact on medical education, innovative health care research, and the provision of high-quality patient care to our sickest patients.” Submitted to the CMA April 19, 2016 from a member of the Associates in Cardiology
“We are a general partnership consisting of 93 partners all of whom are academic anesthesiologists with appointments to the Faculty of the University of Toronto and with clinical appointments at the University Health Network, Sinai Health System or Women’s College Hospital…In contrast to traditional business partnerships, we glean no business advantage whatsoever from being in a partnership…the proposed legislation in Budget 2016 seems unfair in that it will add another financial hardship to our partners – in our view, this is a regressive tax on research, teaching and innovation.” Submitted to the CMA April 14, 2016 from members of the UHN-MSH Anesthesia Associates Recommendation The CMA recommends that the federal government exempt group medical and health care delivery from the proposed changes to s.125 of the Income Tax Act regarding multiplication of access to the small business deduction, as proposed in Clause 13 of the Draft Tax Legislative Proposals. Below is a proposed legislative amendment to ensure group medical structures are exempted from Clause 13 of the Draft Tax Legislative Proposals: Section 125 of the Act is amended by adding the following after proposed subsection 125(9): 125(10) Interpretation of designated member – [group medical partnership] – For purposes of this section, in determining whether a Canadian-controlled private corporation controlled directly or indirectly in any manner whatever by one or more physicians or a person that does not deal at arm's length with a physician is a designated member of a particular partnership in a taxation year, the term "particular partnership" shall not include any partnership that is a group medical partnership. 125(11) Interpretation of specified corporate income – [group medical corporation] – For purposes of this section, in determining the specified corporate income for a taxation year of a corporation controlled directly or indirectly in any manner whatever by one or more physicians or a person that does not deal at arm's length with a physician, the term "private corporation" shall not include a group medical corporation. Subsection 125(7) of the Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order: "group medical partnership" means a partnership that: (a) is controlled, directly or indirectly in any manner whatever, by one or more physicians or a person that does not deal at arm's length with a physician; and (b) earns all or substantially all of its income for the year from an active business of providing services or property to, or in relation to, a medical practice; "group medical corporation" means a corporation that: (a) is controlled, directly or indirectly in any manner whatever, by one or more physicians or a person that does not deal at arm's length with a physician; and (b) earns all or substantially all of its income for the year from an active business of providing services or property to, or in relation to, a medical practice. "medical practice" means any practice and authorized acts of a physician as defined in provincial or territorial legislation or regulations and any activities in relation to, or incidental to, such practice and authorized acts; "physician" means a health care practitioner duly licensed with a provincial or territorial medical regulatory authority and actively engaged in practice;
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The physician appointment and reappointment process 2016

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy13564
Date
2016-12-03
Topics
Health human resources
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Date
2016-12-03
Topics
Health human resources
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Text
Beginning in the 1990s most jurisdictions established regional health authorities (RHAs) with consolidated medical staff structures and there has been a trend toward requiring all physicians practising in a region to hold an appointment with the RHA in order to access health resources such as diagnostic imaging and laboratory services, irrespective of whether they hold hospital privileges or not. Subsequent to the consolidation of medical staff governance there have been several developments over the past decade that have implications for where and how physicians can practise, and for their ability to advocate freely on behalf of their patients. These include: * the establishment of formal physician resource plans that link the appointment process to the ability to participate in the provincial/territorial medical insurance plan; * a greater focus on clinical governance that includes detailed attention on scope of practice and privileges; * a growing concern about the ability of physicians to advocate on behalf of their patients and the communities they serve; and * an increase in the number of physicians entering into employment or contractual arrangements. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) puts forward the following recommendations for governments, regulatory authorities, RHAs and medical staff structures within RHAs and hospitals. Recommendations Where physician appointments are to be approved in relation to Physician Resource Plans, the CMA recommends that such plans must: * take into consideration both population need and projected physician supply; * include transparency in the provision of information about available practice opportunities and on the criteria and processes through which applications for appointments are approved; * be based on a documented methodology with results in the public domain; and * be based on a medium-term projection range, using the most current and reliable data available, and be regularly reviewed and updated. The CMA recommends that the application of standardized credential templates must take into consideration the quality of care being provided by the physician and local circumstances such as the complement of medical and hospital resources available locally and the timeliness of proximity to secondary and tertiary care. The CMA strongly supports the implementation of policy to safeguard physicians from fear of reprisal and retaliation when speaking out as advocates for their patients and communities, and the right and duty of medical officers of health to speak publicly to the citizens they serve. The CMA supports provincial/territorial amendments to public health legislation to protect the right and duty of medical officers of health to speak publicly to the citizens they serve without political interference or risk of adverse employment consequences. The CMA believes that medical staff bylaws should expressly extend to physicians under contract entitlement to the procedural protections set out in the hospital or health authority bylaws. The CMA recommends that the processes of granting appointments, reappointments and privileges and allocating resources respect the following principles: 1. All processes should be fair, equitable, documented and transparent and should protect confidentiality. 2. Criteria for reappointment should be clearly specified in medical staff bylaws and should be no more onerous than necessary to verify the ongoing provision of quality care by the medical staff. 3. A regular evaluation of appointed physicians should be conducted by the appropriate clinical chief. 4. The quality of a physician's care is the most important criterion to be considered at the time of appointment, reappointment and the granting of privileges. 5. The information required for the granting of appointments, reappointments or privileges or for the allocation of medical resources must be accurate, valid and appropriate. 6. The processes of granting appointments, reappointments and privileges and allocating resources should recognize and accommodate the changes in practice patterns that may occur over the medical career cycle. 7. Physicians with established community practices have a significant investment in their practice and the community; this investment should be considered at the time of reappointment or change in privileges. 8. A recommendation, without just cause, to withdraw an appointment, to restrict privileges or to significantly reduce resources available to a physician must include appropriate compensation based on individual circumstances. 9. The reporting of legal actions or disciplinary actions as part of the reappointment or reappointment process should be restricted to those matters in which a final determination has been rendered and in which there has been an adverse finding to the physician. Objective This policy outlines the principles that should be considered for the granting of physician appointments, reappointments, privileges and access to resources at the health care facility, district or RHA level. Key definitions Appointment: The process by which a physician joins the medical staff of a health region or health facility in order to access resources to care for patients. Credentialing: An approach to obtaining, verifying and assessing the qualifications of a health professional against consistent criteria for the purposes of licensing and/or granting privileges.1 Privileges: Permission from an authorized body to a health care provider to conduct a specific scope and content of patient care. Privileges are granted based upon an evaluation of the provider's training, experience and competence related to the service, and are specific to a defined practice setting.1 Clinical peer review: The process by which physician peers assess each other's performance. A peer is a physician with relevant clinical experience in similar health care environments who also has the competence to contribute to the review of other physicians' performance.2 Background Historically the formal appointment process applied to physicians wishing to practise in hospitals. Beginning in the 1990s most jurisdictions established RHAs with consolidated medical staff structures and there has been a trend toward requiring all physicians practising in a region to hold an appointment with the RHA in order to access health resources such as diagnostic imaging and laboratory services, irrespective of whether they hold hospital privileges or not. Since the CMA first adopted principles for the physician appointment and reappointment process in 1997 there have been several developments that are reviewed below: * the establishment of formal physician resource plans that link the appointment process to the ability to participate in the provincial/territorial medical insurance plan; * a greater focus on clinical governance that includes detailed attention on scope of practice and privileges; * a growing concern about the ability of physicians to advocate on behalf of their patients and the communities they serve; and * an increase in the number of physicians entering into employment or contractual arrangements. Physician Resource Plans (PRPs): New Brunswick was the first province to require physicians to have privileges with an RHA in order to obtain a billing number.3 More recently jurisdictions such as Nova Scotia (N.S.) have introduced medium to longer range PRPs that are to be used when approving new appointments. In 2012 N.S. released a PRP for 2012-2021, which has since been updated to 2013-2022.4 Under the terms of the Nova Scotia Health Authority Medical Staff Bylaws, the RHA CEO or their designate will assess applications for new appointments in relation to need and availability of resources. The assessment is to be completed within 60 days and there is no right of review or appeal of the CEO's decision.5 Manitoba's medical staff bylaws make a similar provision.6 While Ontario has not regionalized to the same extent as other jurisdictions, legislation has been introduced that proposes to make the 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) responsible for primary care planning and performance management.7 Moreover the Bill will amend the Health Insurance Act to authorize the health minister to delegate non-fee-for-service physician compensation to the LHIN. Recommendation Where physician appointments are to be approved in relation to PRPs, the CMA recommends that such plans must: * take into consideration both population need and projected physician supply; * include transparency in the provision of information about available practice opportunities and on the criteria and processes through which applications for appointments are approved; * be based on a documented methodology with results in the public domain; and * be based on a medium-term projection range, using the most current and reliable data available, and be regularly reviewed and updated. Other physician resource planning considerations are set out in the CMA's comprehensive policy on PRPs.8 Clinical governance: Since the late 1990s there has been a great deal of attention paid to the concept of clinical governance, which may be defined as the structures, processes and culture needed to ensure that health care organizations and all individuals within them can assure the quality of the care they provide and are continuously seeking to improve it. During the past decade several provinces have carried out inquiries related to problems with pathology and radiology. In British Columbia (B.C.) the Chair of the BC Patient Safety & Quality Council conducted a review of the medical imaging credentialing and quality assurance that reported in 2011. In his final report, Dr. Douglas Cochrane set out 35 recommendations that called for much more rigorous and uniform oversight of medical practice in B.C.9 The recommendations included a call for: * the creation of a single medical staff administration to serve all health authorities and affiliated organizations; * the development of standardized processes for medical staff appointment, and credentialing and privileging, including common definitions; and * the development of performance assessment and review process for all physicians.9 The Cochrane report has resulted in the British Columbia Medical Quality Initiative (BC MQI). BC MQI is implementing an online Provincial Practitioner Credentialing and Privileging System (CACTUS Software) that will be used by all of B.C.'s RHAs to manage these processes for physicians, midwives, dentists and nurse practitioners.10 BC MQI has developed 62 privileging dictionaries for medical directors and department heads to use with their colleagues during initial and renewal privileging processes. The dictionaries recommend the required current experience to perform a certain activity in the form of numbers where applicable and also recommend the requirements for renewal of privileges and the requirements for return to practice. These recommendations are meant to take into account the individual's own experience and the context of the local site in which they work. They are meant to begin a conversation as needed with the department head, colleagues and others. The Society of Rural Physicians of Canada (SRPC) has raised concerns about the potential impact of volume-based credentialing on rural medical practice. For example, the dictionary for Family Practice with Enhanced Surgical Skills recommends that for operative delivery, a volume of at least five caesarean section deliveries be performed per year averaged over 24 months.11The SRPC has put forward recommendations that emphasize the need for appropriate peer review and consideration of geographic diversity and the range of medical practice, and that credential revalidation should be based on the actual quality of care provided by the physician, the continuing medical education completed by the physician and should also consider the impact of changes in delivery on the health outcomes in the community.12 It seems likely that other jurisdictions will be watching the CACTUS program with interest. Recommendation The CMA recommends that the application of standardized credential templates must take into consideration the quality of care being provided by the physician and local circumstances such as the complement of medical and hospital resources available locally and the timeliness of proximity to secondary and tertiary care. Advocacy: Advocacy has been identified as one of seven core roles of every physician by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada13 and the College of Family Physicians of Canada.14 This role entails physicians using their expertise and influence in the interests of their individual patients and the communities and populations they serve. Over the past decade there have been several instances where physicians have either expressed concern about their ability to advocate or have had disciplinary action taken against them, likely as a result of their advocacy activities. As a result of an inquiry carried out by the Health Quality Council of Alberta, the Alberta Medical Association, Alberta Health Services and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta have adopted a joint policy statement that sets out guidelines for physician advocacy.15 Eastern Health in Newfoundland and Labrador has a privacy/confidentiality oath or affirmation for physicians that acknowledges that they may have professional standards for disclosure and advocacy regarding patient safety, but stipulates the expectation that such concerns be first addressed through Eastern Health as an initial step.16 The CMA's policy on the evolving professional relationship between physicians and the health care system sets out nine factors for physicians to consider before undertaking advocacy.17 As predominantly employees of some level of government, and with a responsibility to sound an alert on population health risks, public health physicians are at greater risk of being disciplined for advocacy. There have been two high profile cases of public health physicians who have been dismissed for advocacy-related activities since 2000. Thus far only B.C. has enacted public health legislation to protect medical officers of health from political interference and adverse employment consequences. B.C.'s Public Health Act stipulates that the provincial health officer (PHO) has a duty to advise on provincial public health issues, which includes public reporting where the PHO believes it will best serve the public interest. Similarly sub-provincial medical health officers must advise on local public health issues and publicly report on them after consultation with the PHO. B.C.'s legislation also provides health officers with immunity from legal proceedings for actions done in good faith in the performance of their duties and for reports they are required to make. In addition the legislation protects health officers from "adverse actions", defined as an action that would either affect or threaten "the personal, financial or other interests of a person, or a relative, dependent, friend or business or other close association of that person" as a result of performing their duties in good faith.18 Recommendations The CMA strongly supports the implementation of policy to safeguard physicians from fear of reprisal and retaliation when speaking out as advocates for their patients and communities, and the right and duty of medical officers of health to speak publicly to the citizens they serve. The CMA supports provincial/territorial amendments to public health legislation to protect the right and duty of medical officers of health to speak publicly to the citizens they serve without political interference or risk of adverse employment consequences. Growing employment/contractual relationships: The move to RHAs, consolidation in the hospital sector and changing delivery models have had significant implications for the relationships between physicians and hospitals. The Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) has identified several areas of concern, including patient advocacy, reporting of physicians, responding to adverse events, collection and use of physician information, practice arrangements and liability provision.19 One issue that the CMPA has highlighted in particular is the increasing trend in some jurisdictions for physicians to be engaged on a contracted employee basis rather than as independent contractors appointed with privileges.20 This is seen among facility-based physicians such as hospitalists, clinical and surgical assistants and laboratory physicians. The CMPA has cautioned that physicians engaged on a contractual basis may not have the same procedural rights on termination of contracts as those engaged under the privileging model and it has issued guidance on issues to consider with individual contracts, including CMPA assistance, indemnification clauses, liability provisions, confidentiality, termination of contract, dispute resolution and governing law.21 Recommendation The CMA believes that medical staff bylaws should expressly extend to physicians under contract entitlement to the procedural protections set out in the hospital or health authority bylaws. Principles Physicians must take a leadership role and be active participants in the development of appointment, reappointment and related processes; medical communities must therefore be aware of the basic principles that should be reflected in these processes. Once a physician has obtained a licence to practice, the process of appointment approval is the next step in obtaining permission to practise medicine in a health care facility, district or region. The next step is the granting of privileges. This bestows the right to perform specific medical acts within the health care facility, district or region. The final step is the provision of the necessary resources so that the physician is able to provide appropriate medical services for patient care. A medical committee with a clear structure and mandate to deal with appointments, reappointments and privileges must be maintained in all health care facilities, districts and regions so that physician input may be given during the appointment, reappointment and related processes. Clinical peer review must be foundational to these processes. Time, training and resources must be sufficient to support consistent peer review processes. The principles proposed below apply to all of the following processes: the appointment and reappointment processes, the granting of privileges and the allocation of health care facility, district or regional resources. Principles for the processes of granting appointments, reappointments and privileges and allocating resources 1. All processes should be fair, equitable, documented and transparent and should protect confidentiality. They should be completed in a timely manner and follow the rules of natural justice. At a minimum, the rules of natural justice give the physician the right to notice and the right to be heard before, and provided with reasons by, an impartial adjudicator. Given the nature of the physician's interests in the appointment, reappointment and other related processes, the following principles should also be included: * the right to be heard, either in person and (or) by representation; * the right to full disclosure of the information being considered by the committee that makes recommendations on appointments, reappointments and privileges; * the right to present evidence; * the right to a hearing free from bias, either real or perceived; * the right to a record of the proceedings; * a decision within a reasonable period; * the right to receive written reasons for the decision; and * the right to an appeal process by an independent and impartial body other than the board of the health care facility, district or region. It is important that all processes, including any review processes, follow the principles of natural justice. These processes should be part of the medical staff bylaws that guide the operation of the health care facility, district or region and should be known to all appointed physicians. 2. Criteria for reappointment should be clearly specified in medical staff bylaws and should be no more onerous than necessary to verify the ongoing provision of quality care by the medical staff. Medical staff appointments are typically for a one-year term. Criteria for reappointment vary across Canada, ranging from the provision of evidence of renewed licensure and liability coverage with a discretionary in-depth performance evaluation to the foregoing plus a mandated in-depth performance evaluation and reporting on continuing professional development activity. 3. A regular evaluation of appointed physicians should be conducted by the appropriate clinical chief. It should consist of a fair, documented process with explicit, agreed-upon criteria for the review of the physician's qualifications and credentials and the quality of care provided. If there is demonstrated inappropriate behaviour or a quality-of-care issue, a program for remediation should be established with regular follow-up over a period deemed appropriate by the physician's peers. As in other jobs, the objective of regular performance evaluations for a physician is to improve the physician's performance and the focus should be on opportunities for learning and improvement. The appraisal should entail a standardized peer evaluation process, in addition to self-assessment. The self-assessment process should include the recognition of satisfactory existing skills and the identification of new skills to be learned. In some situations remediation may be justified, for example when there is a need to upgrade skills, when interpersonal and communication skills are unacceptable, and when there is alcohol or drug abuse. Physician evaluations conducted by RHAs should take into account requirements already asked of the physician by their certifying and/or licensing body or other speciality organization in order to avoid duplication of effort. Looking ahead, with the increasing focus on team-based collaborative care, performance of team function and its impact on overall performance to meet health service requirements and quality of care is expected to become increasingly relevant. Conflict resolution mechanisms, scopes of practice and shared roles and responsibilities will need to be considered in order to assess individual and team performance. 4. The quality of a physician's care is the most important criterion to be considered at the time of appointment, reappointment and the granting of privileges. Quality care may be defined as the provision of service that satisfies the needs of the patient and meets the standards set out by recognized bodies of the profession, such as licensing bodies, national clinical societies and others. The essential components of quality include competence, accessibility, acceptability, effectiveness, appropriateness, efficiency, affordability and safety. The cost of a physician's care should not be the primary criterion considered during appointment, reappointment and related processes. Practice patterns, resulting in differences in cost of care, will differ for numerous reasons, including severity of illness, patient mix and patient choices. If there is a local, regional or district physician resource plan, then the need for a particular physician skill base as identified in the plan is an important criterion for appointment or reappointment to institutions within the plan. Physicians must be involved in the development of such a plan, and the plan must be supported by physicians at the local, district or regional level. If a practice and remuneration plan is introduced for a facility, hospital or academic health sciences centre, then participation in such a plan should not be a criterion for reappointment. 5. The information required for the granting of appointments, reappointments or privileges or for the allocation of medical resources must be accurate, valid and appropriate. The information required for these purposes should generally be limited to that which is reasonably necessary to determine the physician's ability to provide safe care. Physician's privacy should only be violated if it is determined that a medical condition or other disability poses an unacceptable risk to patients. The physician's credentials, skills, expertise and quality of care, as judged by peer assessment, should be considered during the appointment or reappointment process. Utilization data and associated indicators are being used more frequently as criteria for appointment and reappointment. Therefore, physicians must be involved in the development of such indicators, and there must be agreement by all parties on the type and quality of data or indicators to be used. In addition, before appointment or reappointment, physicians must be made aware of the data or indicators that will be used to evaluate them and the criteria by which these indicators will be applied. 6. The processes of granting appointments, reappointments and privileges and allocating resources should recognize and accommodate the changes in practice patterns that may occur over the medical career cycle. These processes should be flexible and reasonable concerning other issues such as on-call responsibilities or time needed to fulfil research and teaching commitments. It is important to recognize that a physician's practice pattern may change during his or her medical career. These changes may reflect the desire to no longer take call, the narrowing of the physician's practice to achieve a higher level of expertise in a specific area or the desire to pursue academic interests or responsibilities. Pregnancy, parental leave and the wish to practice part-time must also be considered. The quality of a physician's personal life and other special needs should be viewed as important and should be considered by those making decisions in these areas. 7. Physicians with established community practices have a significant investment in their practice and the community; this investment should be considered at the time of reappointment or change in privileges. An established physician may face financial loss if he or she is not reappointed or if there is a recommendation to substantially change his or her privileges. This possibility should be considered at the time of reappointment or change in privileges. 8. A recommendation, without just cause, to withdraw an appointment, to restrict privileges or to significantly reduce resources available to a physician must include appropriate compensation based on individual circumstances. Appropriate compensation includes financial restitution, retraining, relocation assistance and counselling assistance as required. Sufficient notice and other elements of due process should also be components of this recommendation. Generally, physicians are not employees of a health care facility, district or regional authority. Nonetheless, there are often extensive restrictions on physician mobility and limited opportunities to practice both inside and outside a province or territory. Age may also be a factor in the ability to find placement elsewhere, particularly if the physician is nearing retirement age. For these reasons, an interruption or cessation of a physician's career caused by withdrawal of an appointment, restriction of privileges or reduction in the resources available to the physician justifies appropriate compensation and due notice; this is in keeping with good human resource practices. Appropriate notice should be provided to physicians so that there is minimal impact on patient care. What constitutes timely and appropriate notice may in some cases be several months and will differ depending on the impact of the decision. Examples of decisions that could have a significant impact on physicians include: * temporary or permanent closure of operating rooms or other facilities; * strategic redirection of the hospital that may adversely affect a particular medical service or department, such as regionalization of laboratory testing or provincial centralization of a specialized service; and * implementation of a retirement policy. 9. The reporting of legal actions or disciplinary actions as part of the reappointment or reappointment process should be restricted to those matters in which a final determination has been rendered and in which there has been an adverse finding to the physician. References 1 Accreditation Canada. Qmentum Standards. Governance. Ottawa: Accreditation Canada; 2016. 2 Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare. Review by peers: a guide for professional, clinical and administrative processes. Sydney: Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care; July 2010. Available: http://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/37358-Review-by-Peers.pdf (accessed 2016 May 02). 3 New Brunswick Department of Health. Registration requirements. Fredericton: New Brunswick Department of Health; 2016. Available: http://www.gnb.ca/0394/prw/RegistrationRequirements-e.asp (accessed 2016 May 02). 4 Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness. Shaping our Physician Workforce. Updates. Halifax: Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness; 2016. Available: http://novascotia.ca/dhw/shapingPhysicianWorkforce/updates.asp (accessed 2016 May 02). 5 Province of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia Health Authority Medical Staff Bylaws. Halifax: Province of Nova Scotia; April 2015. Available: https://www.novascotia.ca/just/regulations/regs/hamedstaff.htm (accessed 2016 May 02). 6 Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. WRHA Board By-Law No.3 Medical Staff. Winnipeg: Winnipeg Regional Health Authority; March 2014. Available: http://www.wrha.mb.ca/extranet/medicalstaff/files/MedByLaw.pdf (accessed 2016 May 02). 7 Bill 41. An Act to amend various Acts in the interests of patient-centred care. 2nd Sess, 41st Leg, Ontario; 2016. Available: http://www.ontla.on.ca/bills/bills-files/41_Parliament/Session2/b041.pdf (accessed 2016 Nov 07). 8 Canadian Medical Association. Physician resource planning. Updated 2015. Ottawa: The Association; 2015. Available: http://policybase.cma.ca/dbtw-wpd/Policypdf/PD15-07.pdf (accessed 2016 May 02). 9 Cochrane DD. Investigation into medical imaging, credentialing and quality assurance. Phase 2 report. Vancouver: BC Patient Safety & Quality Council; Aug 2011. Available: http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2011/cochrane-phase2-report.pdf (accessed 2016 May 02). 10 British Columbia Medical Quality Initiative. Briefing note: BC MQI - Provincial Practitioner Credentialing and Privileging System (CACTUS Software) Implementation. Vancouver: British Columbia Medical Quality Initiative; January 2016. Available: http://bcmqi.ca/wp-content/uploads/Briefing-Note_ProvincialPractitionerCPSystemImplementation.pdf (accessed 2016 May 02). 11 British Columbia Medical Quality Initiative. Family Practice with Enhanced Surgical Skills Clinical Privileges. Vancouver: British Columbia Medical Quality Initiative; March 2015. Available: http://www.srpc.ca/ess2016/summit/FamilyPracticeEnhancedSurgicalSkills.pdf (accessed 2016 Nov 06). 12 Soles H, Larsen Soles T. SRPC position statement on minimum-volume credentialing. Can J Rural Med. 2016;21(4):107-11. 13 Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. CanMEDS 2015. Physician competency framework. Ottawa: Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada; 2015. Available: http://canmeds.royalcollege.ca/uploads/en/framework/CanMEDS%202015%20Framework_EN_Reduced.pdf (accessed 2016 May 02). 14 College of Family Physicians of Canada. CanMEDS-Family Medicine. Working Group on Curriculum Review. Mississauga: College of Family Physicians of Canada; October 2009. Available: http://www.cfpc.ca/uploadedFiles/Education/CanMeds%20FM%20Eng.pdf (accessed 2016 May 02). 15 Alberta Medical Association, Alberta Health Services, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. Advocacy Policy Statement. Edmonton: Alberta Medical Association; 2015. Available: https://www.albertadoctors.org/Advocacy/Policy_Statement.pdf (accessed 2016 May 02). 16 Eastern Health. Privacy and confidentiality. ADM-030. St. John's, NL: Eastern Health; 2015. Available: http://www.easternhealth.ca/OurServices.aspx?d=2&id=743&p=740 (accessed 2016 Jun 23). 17 Canadian Medical Association. The evolving professional relationship between Canadian physicians and our evolving health care system: where do we stand? Ottawa: The Association; 2012. Available: https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/en/advocacy/policy-research/CMA_Policy_The_evolving_professional_relationship_between_Canadian_physicians_and_our_health_care_system_PD12-04-e.pdf (accessed 2016 May 02). 18 Public Health Act. SBC 2008, Chapter 28. Available: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/08028_01 (accessed 2016 Nov 07). 19 Canadian Medical Protective Association. Changing physician-hospital relationships: Managing the medico-legal implications of change. Ottawa: The Association; 2011. Available: https://www.cmpa-acpm.ca/-/changing-physician-hospital-relationships (accessed 2016 Nov 07). 20 Canadian Medical Protective Association. The changing practice of medicine: employment contracts and medical liability. Ottawa: The Association; 2012. Available: https://www.cmpa-acpm.ca/-/the-changing-practice-of-medicine-employment-contracts-and-medical-liability (accessed 2016 Nov 07). 21 Canadian Medical Protective Association. Medical-legal issues to consider with individual contracts. Ottawa: The Association; 2016. Available: https://www.cmpa-acpm.ca/-/medico-legal-issues-to-consider-with-individual-contracts (accessed 2016 Nov 07).
Documents
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Third-party forms (Update 2017)

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy13643
Date
2017-05-27
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Date
2017-05-27
Replaces
Third-party Forms: The Physician's Role (Update 2010)
Short-Term Illness Certificate
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Text
A physician's assessment and signature on a third-party form have a value that reflects the physician's formal education and training as well as his/her professional experience. Similar to the signatures of other professionals, a physician's signature carries certain responsibilities and a commitment that the information provided is accurate and based on objective data and the patient's medical history. This value needs to be formally recognized and appropriately used. Most third parties have historically relied on the goodwill of physicians to complete their forms free of charge. However, the steady rise of third-party form requests (see Appendix A) and the cumulative time that form completion takes away from direct patient care necessitates a more reasonable approach to form requests and fair remuneration for the physicians' time and expertise. SCOPE OF POLICY This document provides guidance for physicians, patients and organizations that request third-party forms1 subject to federal/provincial/territorial legislation and regulations. Several strategies aimed at reducing the administrative burden of third-party forms are recommended to allow more time for direct patient care.2 GENERAL PRINCIPLES The physician's role * The physician has a well-defined and limited role in form completion - to only provide objective information on physical and/or psychological impairments and abilities, limitations and restrictions, time frames and prognosis from the medical record directly required by the third party for the purpose of administering particular programs or benefits. Questions on forms directed to physicians should be restricted to seeking such information. * A physician has a duty to ensure that he/she has properly completed the form (i.e., he/she has filled out the form completely, accurately and objectively in accordance with the requirements of the physician's provincial or territorial regulatory college). * When asked to provide an opinion on functional abilities to employers or insurers, the focus should be on abilities; information on restrictions should be objective and specific, and restrictions should be listed only when absolutely medically indicated.3 * A physician must not state that a patient has been under his/her care unless that is the case. The duration of the care should be indicated. If a physician does not have sufficient knowledge of an illness to provide information or an opinion upon it, the physician should state this on the certificate. The certification of absence should be based only on patient history if the patient was seen after the illness and should be clearly documented as "patient reports." In instances where a physician is being requested to complete a form by a transient patient (i.e., not the physician's patient), the physician should only comment on observations based on their own medical assessment. * A physician must have a patient's consent to disclose information to any third party, such as the patient's employer or insurer. Unless prevented by law, the physician should ensure the patient is aware that the report he/she provides to the third party is outside the physician-patient relationship and that in completing the form, the physician has a professional obligation to accurately and objectively report upon the patient's condition. A physician must not disclose more information than is covered by the patient's consent - this includes only providing information relevant to the nature of the request and that is reasonably necessary. If a patient limits his/her consent, the physician must consider whether such limitation is relevant to his/her report and if it is, report the limitation to the third party. * An accurate and relevant narrative summary of a patient's clinical files by the physician should be sufficient information for third parties. The requesting of complete copies of clinical files is unwarranted in the significant majority of cases unless mandated by legislation. * Physicians should consult with the Canadian Medical Protective Association and their provincial regulatory college for guidance and clarification on third-party form requests (see Appendix B). The patient's role * To the greatest extent possible, patients should review the third-party form and be aware of the information being requested. * Most forms request information on patients' subjective complaints and self-reported function. In such instances, it would be more appropriate to have this information reported directly by the patient to the requesting party. * Patients must be aware of the following: o Receipt of their consent authorizes the attending physician to accurately, completely and objectively explain the patient's medical condition as part of the physician's professional responsibility. o Physicians have a professional and ethical obligation to only document that which is true and medically defensible. The physician does not act as the decision-maker for absences or claims adjudication. o In some instances (e.g., fitness to drive), physicians also have legislated requirements to complete third-party forms regarding their patient. The role of the third party * Third parties should only request medical forms when there is a need for medical information about a patient (i.e., information that could not be provided by a non-physician) to be used for employment/education purposes or the evaluation of a medically related benefit for the patient. o It is the role of the third party to adjudicate on a patient's eligibility for a benefit, not the physician. o A request for a patient's non-medical information (i.e., unrelated to the patient's medical condition/history) or a request to certify identity (e.g., asking a physician to certify the principal parent for the purpose of determining eligibility to receive child benefits) is an inappropriate use of medical resources and it is at the discretion of the physician whether to comply with such requests. o Requests for updates should be reasonable and respect the physician's prognosis. o Wherever possible, third-party forms should be standardized (e.g., program eligibility, tombstone data, wording of questions) to save time and reduce administrative errors. o Program eligibility should be made clear to patients and providers to reduce inappropriate form requests (e.g., educating tax advisors on government program eligibility to prevent inappropriate requests for the disability tax credit). * To make the process of completing a medical form effective and efficient, third parties must involve and inform physicians early and on an ongoing basis, beginning by asking physicians to help to determine whether there is a need for a medical form to be completed in the first place. Medical input is also necessary in the design of the form and to determine how often the form needs to be completed. Physicians should be involved in periodic reviews of existing medical forms with third parties (e.g., governments, insurance companies, associations) for several reasons: to determine whether the forms remain relevant and as a simple as possible; to determine appropriate remuneration for completing the forms; and to ensure that physicians are notified of any changes to requests for medical certification in writing rather than having changes communicated to the physician informally through the patient.4 * In some cases, other health professionals (e.g., occupational therapists) are in a better position to objectively assess patients' abilities and could be designated as qualified practitioners for the purpose of completing the forms, with physicians providing information pertaining to medical assessments and prognoses. Short-term illnesses * Confirmation of a short-term absence from work because of minor illness is a matter to be addressed between an employer and an employee directly. Such an absence does not require physician confirmation of illness and represents an inefficient use of scarce health care resources. It is the employer's responsibility -not the physician's - to oversee employee absenteeism. It may be that for many cases, the need for a medical certificate can be replaced by a more effective alternative that does not involve physicians and is agreed to by all parties concerned (e.g., employer and employees). * If an employer, educational institution or other third party requests an illness confirmation certificate for a short-term, minor illness that would otherwise not have required medical attention, said party should recognize that completion of the certificate is an uninsured service for which physicians are entitled to compensation, preferably from the third party requesting the information, rather than burdening the patient. Fair compensation * The third party requesting the information should be responsible for compensating the physician for their medical information and expertise. At a provincial/territorial government level, this could mean making the completion of provincial/territorial forms an insured service under the provincial/territorial health insurance plan. * Physician reimbursement should cover the time and resources devoted to the provision of medical information to third parties (submitted in writing, electronically and/or by phone). This includes compensation for any uninsured medical assessment necessary to complete the form, for the provision of copies of medical information, and for the time and resources needed to respond to any follow-up requests. Wherever possible, the compensation rates should be consistent and should reflect the time and effort necessary to complete the form(s). * Physicians should be compensated for completing forms related to return to work by provincial/territorial worker's compensation plans; they should be compensated for completing return-to-work forms for non-occupational conditions by provincial/territorial insurance plans, given the important health implications of return-to-work management. * In the absence of third-party compensation, physicians may charge the patient for the service they provide. As stated in the CMA's Code of Ethics, physicians should consider the nature of the service provided and the ability of the patient to pay, and they should be prepared to discuss the fee with the patient.5 Patient decisions about payment for uninsured services must not negatively affect the physician-patient relationship or pose a barrier to accessing health care services. The physician may decide to reduce or waive his/her fees if the patient lacks the financial ability to pay. Physicians should consult their provincial/territorial medical association for guidance regarding direct billing of patients. Appendix A The increasing administrative burden Physicians face a multitude of requests on a daily basis to complete medical forms and certificates. Requests come from many sources, including governments, government agencies (e.g., workers' compensation boards) and the private/non-governmental sectors (e.g., employers, insurance companies, schools, sporting organizations). In a 2016 survey of CMA physician members on third-party forms, physicians identified sick notes as the form that they were most frequently asked to complete (67.0% of respondents reported having to fill this form out more than five times per week). Short-term disability claim forms were the second most frequently requested form, with 42.3% of respondents reporting completing this form more than five times per week. Medical certificates for sickness benefit claims under the federal government's employment insurance program - just one example of a third-party form requiring medical input - had to be completed for 336,800 approved applications in 2013-20146 (the vast majority of these certificates would have been completed by physicians). Physicians continue to devote considerable time to completing forms. Government disability forms, just one type of third-party form, require considerable amount of time to complete. Over 62% of the physicians in the 2016 survey indicated they spend 21-30 minutes (31% of respondents) or more than 30 minutes (31% of respondents) to complete the Canada Pension Plan disability form. Similarly, 60% indicated they spend 21-30 minutes (33% of respondents) or more than 30 minutes (27% of respondents) to complete the Veterans' Affairs disability benefit form. The most frequently identified concern that physicians have with completing third-party forms (75% of those who participated in the 2016 survey) was the time it took from direct patient care. The second most frequently identified concern (63.4%) was the number of inappropriate requests from third parties.7 Increasing administrative workload/paperwork has been identified by physicians as one of the biggest contributors increasing the demand for their time at work. 8 In many cases, these requests can be an inappropriate use of a physician's time, such as requests for patient information for administrative purposes. Responding to such requests reduces both timely access to care and the time available for direct patient care. Appendix B Policies in the office to better manage third-party form requests Office policies and strategies can be instituted by physicians to better manage third-party requests. These strategies include: * having an office policy or standardized method to manage third-party form requests; * having clear communication and posted signage on patient and physician responsibilities regarding forms and fees; * using a standard form template (e.g., for sick notes)9; and * organizing time to complete forms. Physicians are also encouraged to consult with their provincial/territorial medical association and their regulatory college for guidance related to form requests. These strategies can be part of an overall effort by organizations to raise the awareness of employers, governments and other third parties of the need for a more appropriate approach to form requests to eliminate time wasted for all parties and reduce the inappropriate use of health care resources. 1 The term third-party form refers to any form, letter, medical certificate, mandatory reporting form, photocopy or other document containing medical information about the patient that a physician has been requested to complete or provide by a third party on behalf of their patient. [0]The term third party refers to an employer, government department or agency, private insurer or other organization that is requesting medical information about the patient with the intention of using it. 2 This policy should be considered in conjunction with CMA's policy statement entitled The Treating Physician's Role in Helping Patients Return to Work after an Illness or Injury. 3 Choosing Wisely Canada. Occupational Medicine Specialists of Canada. Five things physicians and patients should question; 2014 Oct 29. Available: www.choosingwiselycanada.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Occupational-Medicine.pdf 4 Saskatchewan Medical Association. SMA relative value guide. Saskatoon: The Association; 2004. 5 Canadian Medical Association. Code of Ethics. Ottawa: The Association; 2004. 6 This figure does not include the number of forms completed for individuals who applied but did not qualify for the program. Canada Employment Insurance Commission. Employment insurance monitoring and assessment report 2013/14. Ottawa: Employment and Social Development Canada. Available: www.esdc.gc.ca/en/reports/ei/monitoring2014/chapter2_4.page 7 Canadian Medical Association. e-Panel survey summary: third-party forms. Ottawa: The Association; 2017. 8 Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. National physician survey 2013. Results by FP/GP or other specialist, sex, age and all physicians [table]. Ottawa: The College; 2013. Available: http://nationalphysiciansurvey.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/2013-National-EN-Q13r.pdf 9 Steven Harrison. OMA sickness certificate template: a practical office resource. Ontario Medical Review 2004 Dec.
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Physician compensation (Update 2013)

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy11060
Last Reviewed
2018-03-03
Date
2013-12-07
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Last Reviewed
2018-03-03
Date
2013-12-07
Replaces
Physician Compensation (Update 2001)
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Text
CMA's position on physician compensation is based on several overarching principles. Physicians must receive fair and reasonable remuneration for the full spectrum of their professional activities. Payment models must not compromise the ability of physicians to provide high quality medical services to their patients, and should also be consistent with overall health system objectives including timely access to quality care. There should be an appropriate relationship between the provincial /territorial medical association and its respective government-one built on mutual respect, trust, consultation and co-operation as well as an expectation of bargaining in good faith. Key tenets of CMA's policy are as follows: * Physicians should have the liberty to choose among payment methods. Physicians should not be compelled to adopt any particular method of payment where options are available. * Physician compensation arrangements must allow for a balance between professional demands and physician wellness. * Physicians must receive reasonable consideration and compensation when facilities and programs are discontinued, reduced or transferred. * Provincial/territorial governments should enact legislation that expressly recognizes the representational role of the provincial and territorial medical associations or federations in negotiations and dispute resolutions. Provincial and territorial medical associations must be expressly recognized as the sole bargaining agent for physicians. * In the event a negotiated settlement is not achieved, such disagreement must be resolved by binding arbitration or other mutually agreed upon, timely process of dispute resolution. Trends in physician compensation Many different physician compensation models have been introduced over the past two decades in Canada and elsewhere. Some include alternatives to fee-for-service models while others involve a blended approach that incorporate a variety of compensation models (e.g., capitation, salary, sessional fees and fee-for-service). In recent years, pay-for-performance models have been introduced in some provinces and other countries that involve the use of an incentive payment to reward a provider for achieving a target for the quality of patient care. This may be linked to processes or outcomes of care and could be related to the attainment of a specified threshold and/or percentage improvement.i Fee for service remains the predominant option for the provision of insured medical services for Canadian physicians although an increasing number of physicians are compensated through blended funding modelsii. Overarching values for physician compensation Regardless of which funding models are considered, they should all be consistent with several important overarching values. Recognizing that the range of professional responsibilities placed on physicians extends well beyond the strict provision of medically required services, the CMA maintains that all medical practitioners are entitled to receive fair and reasonable remuneration for the full spectrum of their professional activities including administration, teaching, research and committee work, as well as throughout the full spectrum of payment modalities. In addition, service complexity, length of training and the demands of work should be considered. Payment systems must not compromise the ability of physicians to provide high quality cost effective medical services to their patients, and should also be consistent with overall health system objectives including timely access to quality care and ensuring a productive and effective use of resources. Finally, an appropriate relationship between the provincial/territorial medical association and its respective government is necessary-one built on mutual respect, trust, consultation and co-operation as well as an expectation of bargaining in good faith. Choice of payment model Physicians may have the option of remuneration through an increasing array of payment methods. In keeping with the democratic rights accorded to all associations the CMA maintains that all individual medical practitioners should have freedom to choose their method of remuneration. Physicians should not be compelled to adopt any particular method of payment where options are available. Moreover, the implementation of these models should not result in intersectional fee/income inequities. Funding for physicians negotiated with provincial and territorial governments should be flowed exclusively to physicians regardless of whether the funds are channeled through other agencies. Balance between professional demands and physician wellness Physician compensation arrangements must allow for a balance between professional demands and physician wellness. This is important when considering issues such as on-call services and availability of locum tenens. In this regard, the scheduling of physicians' services and training need to be limited to reasonable hours, both to safeguard their ability to provide quality care and in consideration of their need to balance professional and personal life. Reasonable compensation when programs are discontinued, reduced or transferred Health care professionals in hospitals and institutional settings are normally given reasonable compensation packages when facilities are closed, downsized, transferred, etc. In these settings, physicians' employment status may not necessarily be the same as other staff members. They may therefore lack certain benefits and risk having their interests inadequately captured by existing mechanisms. Physicians therefore need to receive reasonable consideration and compensation when facilities and programs are discontinued, reduced or transferred. Affected physicians should be involved in any discussions and decision making relating to the discontinuing, reduction or transfer of programs/facilities. Right to representation All physicians, including those indirectly affected, exercise their freedom of association through their respective provincial or territorial medical association, and have the right to be represented by their respective association in negotiations on issues of payment, funding and the terms and conditions of their work. The CMA strongly supports the provincial and territorial medical associations in their right to representation as the sole bargaining agents for physicians, regardless of payment method, and in their efforts to fulfill the profession's commitments to negotiated agreements. The CMA exhorts all provincial/territorial governments to immediately enact legislation that expressly recognizes the representation status of provincial and territorial medical associations in negotiations and dispute resolutions. Consistent with the process of negotiation and the guiding principles of contract law, the CMA fully expects paying agencies to fulfill the terms of agreements with the medical profession and be obliged to honour a mutually agreed upon and established process of negotiation. Appropriate dispute resolution process The CMA's Code of Ethics places a high priority on patient care. Withdrawal of services by physicians has been infrequent. The medical profession must be afforded the protection of good-faith negotiations and binding arbitration.iii The CMA calls on the federal minister of health to strengthen the provisions of the Canada Health Act (section 12.2) to mandate provincial and territorial governments to enter into an agreement with provincial and territorial medical associations with regard to negotiations on compensation and requiring binding arbitration or other mutually agreed upon timely process of dispute resolution for the settlement of disputes related to physician compensation to satisfy the "reasonable compensation" criteria of section 12.1 (c) of the Act for full federal funding. In instances where the compensation agreement has expired before a new agreement between the jurisdiction and its medical association can be reached, all pre-existing funding arrangements and programs should be continued until such time that a new agreement comes into effect. i Canadian Medical Association, Health Care Transformation in Canada: Change that works. Care that lasts. Ottawa. 2010. ii 2010 National Physician Survey. The College of Family Physicians of Canada, Canadian Medical Association, The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. http://www.nationalphysiciansurvey.ca/nps/2010_Survey/2010nps-e.asp. See also, Canadian Collaborative Centre for Physician Resources, How Physician in Canada are paid? Results of the 2010 National Physician Survey. http://www.nationalphysiciansurvey.ca/nps/news/PDF-e/PhysicianRemuneration-Nov-2011.pdf iii This was acknowledged by Justice Emmett Hall in his 1980 report to the minister of national health and welfare, Canada's National-Provincial Health Program for the 1980's. Hall concluded that "when negotiations fail and an impasse occurs, the issues in dispute must be sent to binding arbitration."
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Auditing Physician Billings

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1878
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2004-12-04
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Last Reviewed
2019-03-03
Date
2004-12-04
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Text
Auditing Physician Billings Purpose: The CMA has developed a set of guiding principles to assist in the formation and modification of provincial/territorial billing audit processes. These principles will ensure that billing audit systems are fair, transparent, effective and timely, and that they uphold their original objectives of ensuring the accountability of public expenditures and educating physicians on appropriate billing practices. Background: As payments to physicians are made through public monies, the integrity of the payment system is validated through physician billing audits and reviews. Audits and reviews are usually prompted by: billings that appear to be outside of the “norm,” patient complaints, physician complaints or a “focus” on a particular service/area of practice/group of physicians. Each province/territory is responsible for and has in place particular processes and procedures to review physician billings. Billing audits can be stressful events that, regardless of the audit outcome, have had adverse effects on a physician’s health and practice. Although changes over the years in billing audit practices have occurred, they have not addressed all of the physicians’ concerns. Inadequacies in the existing procedures, such as the lack of a clear decision-making process, established review timelines and options for recourse still remain. In response to this situation, many provinces/territories are reviewing and modifying their existing billing audit process. The CMA and Canada’s physicians believe in an open, accountable and transparent health care financing system. It is for this reason that the CMA has developed this set of principles related to the key components of the audit process to ensure it is fair, efficient, effective and serves the purpose it was originally intended – to ensure the accountability of public funds and to educate physicians on proper billing practices. Principles: Education on proper billing practices: The audit and review process must be undertaken as an educational exercise. In a fee based system, billing code use and interpretation are complex and can often lead to unintentional errors. If or when inconsistencies occur, the physician must be alerted and provided with the opportunity to explain his/her billing behaviour. To assist in moving the audit and review process from under a cloud of perceived punishment to that of educational enlightenment, the repayment of any funds shall not commence until the audit and review process is complete and all appeal options have been exercised. As part of this overall educational framework, it is recommended that all newly licensed physicians be offered an educational program on proper billing interpretations, procedures and practices, and of the audit process itself. Fair, Transparent and Timely Process: In order for the audit and review process to be perceived as fair, it must operate at arms length from governments and the Colleges. As a profession, physicians have been granted the privilege of self-regulation by society. Given that medicine is a highly complex art and science, physicians are the only group truly qualified to set and maintain standards and to uphold accountability in matters of professional behaviour. The billing audit and review process must observe the principles of “Natural Justice” in that the: audit findings must be both impartial and be seen to be impartial and physicians affected by the findings must be offered a fair hearing by being given notice in writing of the findings; the opportunity to respond to the findings; all of the information to prepare a response; sufficient time to prepare a response; and an oral hearing if there is a dispute on factual matters or if requested by the physician. Physicians should be informed that legal counsel and assistance can be retained at any stage of the audit and review process. Physicians should consult with their respective provincial/territorial division or the Canadian Medical Protective Association (CMPA) to see whether such assistance is available, or with lawyers who specialize in this field. Specific time limits should be adhered to in the auditing and reviewing of a physician’s billings practice, particularly related to when the review period should commence and to the duration of the review period. For example, billings should not be reviewable more than 24 months after the service is rendered and the review period should not be greater than 12 months. These limitation periods recognize that physicians will not be able to recall, with certainty, the vast amount of information contained in a patient’s medical record over the past 10 years – the average length of time in which medical records must be held. It also ensures that audits and reviews are conducted in a timely fashion minimizing undue stress and hardship on the physician and, in light of the health human resources shortage, enabling them to re-focus their attention and energy on taking care of their patients. Informed Decision-Makers: Audits and reviews to determine whether there has been any incorrect or inaccurate billing should be undertaken solely by a physician’s peers, and where possible, consisting of physicians from the same specialty and subspecialty and with similar practice type, geography and demography. This peer review group shall consider age-gender distribution and the morbidity of the patients as well as other pertinent matters in arriving at its findings and conclusions. Outcomes: Any conclusions and/or findings from an audit and review must be prepared in a written report and forwarded, in a timely manner, to the physician and the paying agency. If either party is not satisfied with the findings, they have the option of launching an appeal. The preferred route would be to pursue and use Alternative Dispute Resolution processes since they tend to encourage a more co-operative climate resulting in fair and appropriate settlements, while avoiding the excessive financial, psychological and procedural costs that can be associated with formal court proceedings. Conclusion: These guiding principles are the product of an international, provincial and territorial scan of billing audit practices. They have undergone extensive consultation with the provincial/territorial medical associations and national medical organizations. They should be used to form the foundation of and to guide any reviews or modifications to existing provincial/territorial audit and review processes. CMA Policy, Medical Professionalism, 2002. Student Behaviour Guide_Natural.Justice.htm, Dec. 2002
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Rural and remote practice issues

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy211
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2000-05-09
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2000-05-09
Replaces
Promoting medicine as a career for rural high school students (Resolution BD88-03-78)
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Text
CMA Policy : Rural and Remote Practice Issues The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) believes that all Canadians should have reasonable access to uniform, high quality medical care. The CMA is concerned, however, that the health care infrastructure and level of professional support in rural and remote areas are insufficient to provide quality care and retain and recruit physicians relative to community needs. The CMA has developed this policy to outline specific issues and recommendations that may help retain and recruit physicians to rural and remote areas of Canada and thereby improve the health status of rural and remote populations. The following 3 key issue areas are addressed in this policy: training, compensation and work/lifestyle support. Commitment and action by all stakeholders, including governments, medical schools, professional associations and others, are urgently required. Preamble Canadian physicians and other health care professionals are greatly frustrated by the impact that health care budget cuts and reorganization have had, and continue to have, on the timely provision of quality care to patients and general working conditions. For many physicians who practise in rural and remote communities, the impact is exacerbated by the breadth of their practice, as well as long working hours, geographic isolation, and lack of professional backup and access to specialist services. This policy has been prepared to help governments, policy-makers, communities and others involved in the retention and recruitment of physicians understand the various professional and personal factors that must be addressed to retain and recruit physicians to rural and remote areas of Canada. This policy applies to both general practitioners/family physicians as well as specialists. The CMA believes that this policy must be considered in the context of other relevant CMA policies, including but not limited to Physician Health and Wellbeing, Physician Compensation, Physician Resource Planning, Principles for a Re-entry System in Canadian Postgraduate Medical Education and Charter for Physicians. In addition, any strategies that are developed should not be coercive and must include community and physician input; they must also be comprehensive, flexible and varied to meet and respond to local needs and interests. Definitions Rural and remote There are no standard, broadly accepted terms or definitions for "rural" and "remote" since they cannot be sufficiently defined to reflect the unique and dynamic nature of the various regions and communities that could presumably be labelled as such. The terms "rural" or "remote" medicine may be applied to many things: the physicians themselves, the population they serve, the geography of the community or access to medical services. For each of these factors, there are a number of ways to define and measure rurality. For example, a 1999 CMA survey of rural physicians showed that the most frequently mentioned characteristics of a rural community were (1) high level of on-call responsibilities, (2) long distance to a secondary referral centre, (3) lack of specialist services and (4) insufficient family physicians. As another example, Statistics Canada defines rural and small town residents for some analyses as those living in communities outside Census Metropolitan Areas (population of at least 100 000) or Census Agglomerations (population between 10 000 and 99 999), and where less than 50% of the workforce commute to a larger urban centre. Medical school For the purposes of this policy, a medical school is understood to encompass the entire continuum of medical education, i.e., undergraduate, postgraduate, continuing medical education and maintenance of competence. Training Some Canadian studies have shown that medical trainees who were raised in rural communities have a greater tendency to return to these or similar communities to practise medicine. Some studies also show that individuals who do clerkships in rural or remote communities, or have some exposure to the rural practice environment during residency training, have a greater tendency to consider practising in rural or remote communities upon graduation. The CMA applauds those medical schools that promote careers in medicine to individuals from rural and remote areas and provide medical students and residents with exposure to rural practice during their training. Regular collaboration and communication among training directors for rural and remote programs, as well as rural medical educators and leaders from other health disciplines, are strongly encouraged so that rural training issues and possible linkages may be discussed. The benefits of rural training extend not only to those physicians who ultimately end up in rural practice; those who remain in urban areas also benefit by having an enhanced understanding of the challenges of rural and remote practice. As outlined in the CMA’s 1992 Report of the Advisory Panel on the Provision of Medical Services in Underserviced Regions, the CMA believes that partnerships among medical schools, the practising profession and communities need to be formalized, particularly since medical schools have a crucial role in helping to recruit and retain physicians for rural and remote communities. The medical school’s role in such a partnership takes the form of a social contract. This contract begins with the admission of students who demonstrate a prior interest in working in rural or remote communities and may come from these communities. It also includes the exposure of students to rural practice during their undergraduate and postgraduate training. It is followed by the provision of specialized training for the conditions in which they will work and ongoing educational support during their rural and remote practice. For these reasons, the CMA strongly encourages academic health science centres (AHSCs), provincial governments, professional associations and rural communities to work together to formally define the geographic regions for which each AHSC is responsible. The AHSCs are also encouraged to include within their mission a social contract to contribute to meeting the health needs of their rural or remote populations. Practising physicians are committed to lifelong learning. In order to preserve a high standard of quality care to their patients, they must be knowledgeable about new clinical and technological advances in medicine; they must also continually develop advanced or additional clinical skills in, for example, obstetrics, general surgery and anaesthesia, to better serve the patients in their communities, especially when specialist services are not readily available. There are many practical and financial barriers that physicians in rural and remote communities face in obtaining and maintaining additional skills training, including housing, practice and other costs (e.g., locum tenens replacement expenses) while they are away from work. The CMA strongly encourages governments to develop and maintain mechanisms, such as compensation or additional tax relief, to reduce the barriers associated with obtaining advanced or additional skills training. In light of these issues, the CMA recommends that 1. Universities, governments and others encourage and fund research into criteria that predispose students to select and succeed in rural practice. 2. All medical students, as early as possible at the undergraduate level, be exposed to appropriately funded and accredited rural practice environments. 3. Medical schools develop training programs that encourage and promote the selection of rural practice as a career. 4. Universities work with professional associations, governments and rural communities to determine the barriers that prevent rural students from entering the profession, and take appropriate action to eliminate or reduce these barriers. 5. A Web site based compendium of rural experiences and electives for medical students be developed, maintained and adequately funded. 6. Advanced skills acquisition and maintenance opportunities be provided to physicians practising in or going to rural and remote areas. 7. CMA divisions and provincial/territorial governments ensure that physicians who work in rural and remote areas receive full remuneration while obtaining advanced skills, including support for the locum tenens who will replace them. 8. Any individual formally enrolled in a Royal College of Physicians of Surgeons of Canada or College of Family Physicians of Canada program be covered by the collective agreement of their housestaff organization. 9. Providers, funders and accreditors of continuing medical education for rural physicians ensure that the continuing medical education is developed in close collaboration with rural physicians and is accessible, needs-based and reflective of rural physicians’ scope of practice. 10. Physicians who practise in rural or remote areas be given reasonable opportunities to re-enter training in a postgraduate program without any return-in-service obligations. 11. In order to promote mutual understanding, universities encourage teaching faculty to work in rural practices and that rural physicians be invited to teach in academic health science centres. 12. Medical schools develop training programs for both students and residents that encourage and promote the provision of skills appropriate to rural practice needs. 13. Medical schools support rural faculty development and provide full faculty status to these individuals. Compensation The CMA believes that compensation for physicians who practise in rural and remote areas must be flexible and reflect the full spectrum of professional and personal factors that are often inherent to practising and living in such a setting. These professional factors may include long working hours and the need for additional competencies to meet community needs, such as advanced obstetrics, anaesthesia and general surgery, as well as psychotherapy and chemotherapy. They may also include a high level of on-call responsibilities as well as a lack or total absence of backup from specialists, nurses and other complementary services that are usually available in an urban environment. Other challenges are professional isolation, limited opportunities for education or training, and high practice start-up costs. Also, if for a number of reasons a physician wishes to relocate to an urban setting, he or she may face billing restrictions as well as challenges in finding a replacement physician. Compensation for these factors is necessary to help retain physicians and recruit new ones. In addition, compensation should guarantee protected time off, paid continuing medical education or additional skills training, and locum tenens coverage. Any pool of locum tenens for rural and remote practice should be adequately funded and cross-jurisdictional licensure issues should be minimized. Living in a rural or remote community can be very satisfying for many physicians and their families; however, they must usually forgo — often for an extended period of time— a number of urban advantages and amenities. These include educational, cultural, recreational and social opportunities for their spouse or partner, their children and themselves. They may also face altered family dynamics due to a decrease or significant loss of family income if there are limited or no suitable employment opportunities for their spouse or partner. The CMA believes that all physicians should have a choice of payment options and service delivery models to reflect their needs as well as those of their patients. Physicians must receive fair and equitable remuneration and have a practice environment that allows for a reasonable quality of life. Although the CMA does not advocate one payment system for urban physicians and another for rural physicians, it believes that enhanced total compensation should be provided to physicians who work and live in rural and remote communities. In recognition of these issues, the CMA recommends that 14. Additional compensation to physicians working in rural and remote areas reflect the following areas: degree of isolation, level of responsibility, frequency of on-call, breadth of practice and additional skills. 15. In recognition of the differences among communities, payment modalities retain flexibility and reflect community needs and physician choice. 16. Financial incentives focus on retaining physicians currently practising in rural or remote areas and include a retention bonus based on duration of service. 17. Factors affecting the social and professional isolation of physicians and their families be considered in the development of compensation packages and working conditions. 18. Eligibility criteria for including physicians in a pool of locum tenens for rural or remote practice be developed in consultation with rural physicians. 19. Provincial/territorial licensing bodies establish portability of licensure for locum tenens and ensure that any fees or processes associated with licensure do not serve as barriers to interprovincial mobility. 20. Rural locum tenens programs be funded by provincial/territorial governments and include adequate compensation for accommodation, transportation and remuneration. As previously noted, some studies show that exposure to rural and remote areas during training influences students’ decision to practise in those communities upon graduation. The CMA is concerned, however, that travel and accommodation costs relating to these experiences place an undue financial burden on students. In addition, most physicians in rural and remote areas are already burdened with significant patient loads and find that they have limited time and resources to act as preceptors. The CMA believes that, to ensure the ongoing viability of student rural experiences, physician preceptors should be compensated for their participation and should not incur any additional expenses, such as student or resident accommodation costs. The CMA recommends that 21. Costs for accommodation and travel for student and resident rural training experiences in Canada not be borne by the trainees or the preceptors. 22. Training programs assume responsibility for adequately remunerating preceptors in rural or remote areas. Work and lifestyle support issues To retain and recruit physicians in rural and remote communities, there are issues beyond fair and adequate compensation that must be considered. It is crucial that the aforementioned working conditions, professional issues and array of personal and family-related issues be addressed. The ultimate goal should be to promote physician retention and implement measures that reduce the possibility of physician burnout. Like most people, physicians want to balance their professional and personal responsibilities to allow for a reasonable quality of life. Physicians in rural and remote areas practise in high stress environments that can negatively affect their health and well-being; as a consequence, the standard of care to their patients can suffer. The stress is intensified by excessive work hours, limited professional backup or support (including locum tenens), limited access to specialists, inadequate diagnostic and treatment resources, and limited or no opportunity for vacation or personal leave. At particular risk for burnout is the physician who practises in isolation. For these reasons many physicians, when considering practice opportunities, tend to seek working conditions that will not generate an excessive toll on their non-working lives. This reinforces the need for rural and remote practice environments that facilitate a balance between physicians’ professional and personal lives. In light of these issues, the CMA recommends that 23. Regardless of community size, there should always be at least 2 physicians available to serve the needs of the community. 24. Ideally, the on-call requirement for weekends never exceed 1 in 5 in any Canadian practice. (This is consistent with current CMA policy.) 25. Provincial/territorial governments have professional support and other mechanisms readily available to physicians who practise in rural and remote areas, such as sabbaticals and locum tenens. 26. Governments recognize the service of rural and remote physicians by ensuring that mechanisms exist to allow future access to practise in an urban area of their choice. The CMA believes that rural and remote physician retention and recruitment initiatives must address matters relating to professional isolation as well as social isolation for physicians and their families. This sense of isolation can increase when there are cultural, religious or other differences. For unattached physicians, zero tolerance and unreasonable restrictions with regard to relationships with potential patients can be disincentives to practise in rural or remote communities. Although the CMA believes that such policies and restrictions should be reviewed, the CMA encourages physicians to refer to the CMA policy on The Patient-Physician Relationship and the Sexual Abuse of Patients and the Code of Ethics of the Canadian Medical Association. Also, the CMA recommends that physicians abide by any provincial/territorial policies or legislation that may currently be in place. The medical services infrastructure in rural and remote areas is usually very different from that in urban settings. In addition to a lack of specialist services, physicians in these areas may often have to cope with a number of other factors such as limited or no appropriate diagnostic equipment or limited hospital beds. Physicians and their patients expect and deserve quality care. The diversity and needs of the populations, as well as the needs of the physicians who practise in rural and remote areas, must also be recognized and reflected in the infrastructure (e.g., demographic and geographical considerations). The CMA recommends that 27. A basic medical services infrastructure for rural and remote areas be defined, such as hospital beds, paramedical staff, diagnostic equipment, transportation, ready access to secondary and tertiary services, as well as information technology tools and support. 28. Provincial/territorial governments recognize that physicians who work in rural and remote areas need an environment that appropriately supports them in providing service to the local population.
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The treating physician's role in helping patients return to work after an illness or injury (Update 2013)

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy10754
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2013-05-25
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Last Reviewed
2020-02-29
Date
2013-05-25
Replaces
The physician's role in helping patients return to work after an illness or injury (Update 2010)
Topics
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Text
This policy addresses the role of the treating physician in assisting their patients return to work after an illness or injury. The treating physician's role is to diagnose and treat the illness or injury, to advise and support the patient, to provide and communicate appropriate information to the patient and the employer, and to work closely with other involved health care professionals to facilitate the patient's safe and timely return to the most productive employment possible. Fulfilling this role requires the treating physician to understand the patient's roles in the family and the workplace. Furthermore, it requires the treating physician to recognize and support the employee-employer relationship and the primary importance of this relationship in the return to work. Finally, it requires the treating physician to have a good understanding of the potential roles of a return-to-work coordinator and of other health care professionals and employment personnel in assisting and promoting the return to work. Introduction The CMA recognizes the importance of a patient returning to all possible functional activities relevant to his or her life as soon as possible after an injury or illness. Prolonged absence from one's normal roles, including absence from the workplace, is detrimental to a person's mental, physical and social well-being. The treating physician should therefore encourage a patient's return to function and work as soon as possible after an illness or injury, provided that a return to work does not endanger the patient, his or her co-workers or society. A safe and timely return to work benefits the patient/employee and his or her family by enhancing recovery and reducing disability. A safe and timely return to work by the employee also preserves a skilled and stable workforce for employers and society and reduces demands on health and social services as well as on disability plans. In recent years, an increasing level of responsibility in the return-to-work process has been placed on treating physicians. There has been an increased demand for medical information and advice from physicians and other health care providers concerning patient functionality, restricted work and modifications to the workplace to help accommodate the disabled patient. i There has also been a blurring of the lines between the provision of forms/reports for benefits and dealing with requests for information related to helping patients return to work (e.g., completing Functional Abilities Forms). Treating physicians are often asked to provide information related to complex issues affecting patients in the workplace and to assist in the eligibility of insurance claims while lacking information related to job description or the insurance company's definition of disability. There is also the issue of consent, where employers/insurers are asking employees to sign "blanket consents," which include information well outside what is medically necessary to determine eligibility to return to work. In addition, the complex nature of the return-to-work process can lead to conflict between employees, physicians, and employers. Finally, the majority of physicians outside occupational medicine have not received training on the return-to-work process and thus may feel uncomfortable providing these types of services. Cooperation from the employee, employer, insurer and health care provider is necessary to ensure a safe and timely return to work for the patient. The purpose of this statement is to address the role of the treating physician in the patient's return to work. A treating physician refers to a physician from any medical specialty - including a family physician - who preferably knows the patient the best. The CMA supports a shift away from reliance on physician certification for work absences and a move toward greater cooperation between the employee and his or her employer with the use of medical input, advice and support from the employee's treating physician and other involved health care professionals.ii Although this policy addresses the treating physician's role in helping patients return to work after an illness or injury, many of the concepts are applicable to accommodating employees who are in need of a modified work arrangement with their employer. The Role of the Employer The employee and the employer generally have an established relationship and this is central to the return-to-work process. In all cases of impairment or disability, an unbiased workplace supervisor, manager or employer representative must be a closely involved partner in this process. Employers increasingly recognize the value of making changes to the workplace than can facilitate a return to work. The employer's role is to ensure that the workplace culture supports a safe and timely return to work; for example, by being flexible in modifying tasks, schedules and environmental conditions to meet the temporary or permanent needs of the employee. Employees are often unaware of their employer's capacity to accommodate special needs. Direct communication by an employee with his or her employer after an illness or injury often enhances the employee's perception of his or her ability to work. With careful planning and appropriate physician input and advice to both the employee and the employer, an employee may often successfully return to work before full recovery. The employer and employee have a responsibility to provide the treating physician with any employment-related information that can be useful in giving medical advice and support. It is the employer's responsibility to provide the treating physician with a written job description, identifying the job risks and available work modifications, upon request. The Role of the Treating Physician The treating physician's role in helping a patient return to work has four main elements: 1. Providing to the patient medically necessary services related to the injury or illness to achieve optimum health and functionality; 2. Providing objective, accurate and timely medical information for the consideration of eligibility of insurance benefits; 3. Providing objective, accurate and timely medical information as part of the timely return-to-work program; andiii 4. Considering whether to serve as a Timely Return-to-Work Coordinator when requested by the employer/employee or other third party (outlined below). In relation to the first three elements, the treating physician should remain cognizant of the potential for legal proceedings and should, therefore, ensure, as always, that any statements made regarding a patient's capacity to return to work are defensible in a court of law. The physician should ensure that any statements made are, to the best of the physician's knowledge, accurate and based upon current clinical information about the patientiv. If the physician relies on information that cannot be substantiated independently, then the physician should note in the report the source of the information and the fact that it has not been independently confirmed. Comments unrelated to the treating physician's professional opinion or that are extraneous to the stated objectives should not be included in the report. Reports should be written in language that is appropriate for the intended audience. This may require the physician to avoid medical short forms, or jargon. Where this is not possible, the physician should include, in addition to technical medical terminology, more colloquial terms or explanations to ensure the reader understands the report's contents. Where the physician is not able to answer some of the questions, even with the assistance of the patient, the physician should indicate his or her inability to respond. For more information with respect to completing forms and reports, please refer to Canadian Medical Protective Association articles entitled "Forms and Reports: The Case for Care (2002)" v and "Reasonable Delays for Filling out Insurance Forms (2007)." vi Considerations for Treating Physicians who wish to Participate in the Timely Return-to-Work Process Treating physicians need to ensure that a timely return-to-work plan is incorporated into the care plan for their patient. A timely return-to-work program is one that is initiated early and ensures a safe return to work at the earliest and most appropriate time. The treatment or care plan should be evidence-based, when possible, and should identify the best sequence and timing of interventions for the patient. The treating physician should facilitate the patient's return to work by encouraging him or her early in treatment or rehabilitation to take an active role in and take responsibility for the return to work, and to communicate directly and regularly with his or her employers. Furthermore, the physician should discuss expected healing and recovery times with the patient, as well as the positive role in physical and psychological healing of a graduated increase in activity. Unnecessary waiting periods and other obstacles in the care plan should be identified and discussed, when relevant, by those involved in the patient/employee's return to work. In some cases, it may be appropriate for the treating physician to advise the patient that a timely return to work can facilitate his or her recovery by helping to restore or improve functional capabilities. The physician should be familiar with the family and community support systems available to the patient. Moreover, the physician should be knowledgeable about and use, when appropriate, the services of a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals, who can be helpful in facilitating the patient's safe and timely return to work. In cases of employers with occupational medical departments, the treating physician, with the patient's prior expressed consent, may contact the occupational physician or nurse to understand specific workplace policies, supportive in-house resources, essential job demands and possible health and safety hazards in the patient's workplace. Where occupational medical resources are available, the treating physician generally assumes a supportive or advisory medical role. For assistance with specific cases, provincial and territorial medical associations and the Occupational Medicine Specialists of Canada, as well as the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Association of Canada, have information identifying physicians who specialize in assisting with the return to work. vii In complex cases, the treating physician should consider referring the patient/employee to medical specialists or other appropriate health care professionals for a comprehensive, objective assessment of his or her functional capabilities and limitations and their relation to the demands of the employee's job. The Return-to-Work Coordinator The CMA supports the concept of the return-to-work coordinator as described in the Ontario Medical Association Position Paper, "The Role of the Primary Care Physician in Timely Return to Work."viii A return-to-work coordinator may be a health care professional who "works with the employer and the patient/employee to assist in developing and overseeing a timely return to work program that is individualized to the employee and meets the requirements of the employer. A return to work plan or program is "a compilation of services required to safely and effectively return an individual to work as soon as possible." ix Return to work requires that the employee's capabilities match or exceed the physical, psychological and cognitive requirements of the work offered. It may involve designing a modified work setting and timetable to facilitate reintegration in the workplace based on the patient's physical and psychological condition. Specific services of the return-to-work coordinator may include: * Compiling all medical information, along with the employee's workplace and job functions information. * Providing advice on the limitations, restrictions and modifications that may be necessary to accommodate the employee in a timely return-to-work program. * Periodically reviewing the prescribed program and suggesting modifications until the patient eventually assumes full-duty status or has resumed work in a modified manner acceptable to all parties. The treating physician has the choice to assume this role or it may be assumed by an alternate health care provider. It is the employer/insurer's responsibility to ensure that a health care provider is assigned to this role. The treating physician also has the choice to suggest the patient/employee undergo a functional capacity assessment or an independent medical examination (IME). Treating physicians should only provide such services if they have the necessary training and expertise. The CMA believes educational sessions should be provided to support treating physicians who feel they need them and who wish to assume the role of the timely return-to-work coordinator. If the treating physician agrees to participate in developing a modified work plan, the physician should consider and make recommendations related to the employee's task limitations, schedule modifications, environmental restrictions and medical aids or personal protective equipment. Whenever possible, the physician should state whether restrictions are permanent or temporary and give an estimate of recovery time. The physician should also specify the date when the patient's progress and his or her work restrictions need to be reassessed. The treating physician must be aware of the risks to the patient, his or her coworkers or the public that could arise from the patient's condition or drug therapy. If the patient's medical condition and the nature of the work performed are likely to endanger the safety of others significantly, the physician must put the public interest before that of the patient/employee. When the treating physician, acting as a return-to-work coordinator, believes that the patient has recovered sufficiently to return to work safely, the patient should be clearly informed of this judgment. If the employer and the employee cannot agree on a return-to-work plan, the employer should contact the treating physician and employee to identify the minimum level of capability that can be accommodated in the workplace. When there is a conflict between the employer and the employee, it is recommended that the treating physician use, where available, the skills of an occupational physician. The CMA recommends that, when conflicts occur, conflict-resolution processes be put in place to address all participants' concerns. The treating physician's role should be limited to providing relevant clinical information about the functional limitations of the employee and recommending any corresponding work restrictions. Ultimately, the employer determines the type of work available and whether a physician's recommendations concerning an employee's return to work can be accommodated. Under provincial and territorial human rights laws, an employer may not discriminate on the basis of disability or other illness and has legal obligations with respect to the accommodation of employees. For details, refer to the Human Rights Code in the relevant jurisdiction. The CMA holds that legislation should be enacted in all jurisdictions to protect physicians from liability associated with such decisions. Respecting Patient Confidentiality and Managing Medical Information Medical records are confidential. Physicians must respect the patient's right to confidentiality except where required or permitted by law to disclose requested information. In general, physicians should not, without the patient's consent, give information to anyone concerning the condition of a patient or any service rendered to a patient, unless required by law to do so. For example, in some cases, provincial or territorial legislation may require physicians to provide information to workers' compensation boards without prior patient approval. Physicians should be aware of the legal requirements with regard to prior patient approval and of the legal requirements in their province or territory. Where a physician has the discretion to make a disclosure (i.e., where it is permitted by law but not required), the decision should be made bearing in mind the duty of confidentiality and the facts of the case. Physicians will want to consider if it is appropriate under the circumstances to advise the patient when a disclosure has been made pursuant to applicable legislation.x In circumstances where a physician provides a third party with information or an opinion for an individual he/she is not otherwise treating (for example during an IME mandated by the employer), the duty to provide the individual with access to the information, opinion and or notes prepared for the opinion will vary according to the applicable law, the nature of the agreement with the third party and the consent of the individual. Physicians should be aware that their working notes may be, in some circumstances, accessible to an individual being examined for the purpose of a third-party process. Physicians conducting an IME and preparing a report on behalf of a third party should ensure the individual being examined understands the nature and extent of the physician's responsibility to the third party, including that the report will be forwarded to this third party. Moreover, an IME is distinct from a regular physician-patient encounter and, as such, it does not obligate the independent examiner to treat or provide health care to the examinee. However, should the medical examiner discover an unexpected significant clinical finding which requires essential intervention, then he or she should advise the examinee of this fact to enable the examinee to obtain timely medical attention. The treating physician should not provide information about the patient to the patient's employer without the patient's authorization. The following are best practices when obtaining patient consent: * Consent should be specific rather than general; * Written authorization for such disclosure is desirable and may be required in some jurisdictions; * A separate patient consent should be obtained for each request for medical information; and * Patient consent should be considered time-limited. To respect the privacy of the patient, the treating physician should be careful not to provide medical information that is not needed to facilitate the patient's return to work. The patient has the right to examine and copy medical records that pertain to him or her. Patient access to records may be denied only in accordance with the exceptions specified under the relevant privacy legislation, such as reasonable risk of serious harm, solicitor-client privilege or identification of another person. The treating physician should ensure that he/she is familiar with the applicable legislation and rules with respect to a patient's right of access. If access is denied and the patient challenges the treating physician's decision, the onus is on the physician to justify denial of access. Treating physicians should consult appropriate statements from the relevant provincial or territorial licensing body and from the Canadian Medical Protective Association for additional information and guidance. Physicians should also be aware of any relevant legislation or other legal requirements in their jurisdictions. Billing for Return-to-Work Services Many services related to a timely return-to-work program are not covered by public medical insurance. Although often the case, patients should not be required to cover the costs of services related to a timely return-to-work program. The CMA recommends that the requesting party bear these costs.xi Payment should be commensurate with the degree of expertise and the time expended by the physician and office staff. The physician should consult the billing policy of his/her provincial medical association for further guidance. i Ontario Medical Association, The role of the primary care physician in timely return to work. OMA position paper. Ontario Medical Review, March 2009. https://www.oma.org/Resources/Documents/2009PCPandTimelyReturn.pdf (accessed 2013 Jan 07). ii Canadian Medical Association, Short-Term Illness Certificate, 2010. http://policybase.cma.ca/dbtw-wpd/Policypdf/PD11-06.pdf (accessed 2013 Jan 07). iii The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, Third Party Forms, Update 2012. https://www.cpso.on.ca/uploadedFiles/policies/policies/policyitems/ThirdParty.pdf (accessed 2013 Jan 07). iv The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, Medical Certificates policy, Update 2009. https://www.cpsbc.ca/files/u6/Medical-Certificates.pdf (accessed 2013 Jan 07). v Canadian Medical Protective Association, Forms and Reports: The Case for Care, Update 2008. http://www.cmpa-acpm.ca/cmpapd04/docs/resource_files/infosheets/2002/com_is0227-e.cfm (accessed 2013 Jan 07). vi Canadian Medical Protective Association, Reasonable Delays for Filling out Insurance Forms, 2007. http://www.cmpa-acpm.ca/cmpapd04/docs/resource_files/infoletters/2007/com_il0720_2-e.cfm (accessed 2013 Jan 07). vii See also Presley Reed, The Medical Disability Advisor: Workplace Guidelines for Disability Duration, Reed Group, As amended. and the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Guidelines in Preventing Needless Work Disability, 2006. http://www.acoem.org/PreventingNeedlessWorkDisability.aspx. (accessed 2013 Jan 07). viii Ontario Medical Association, The role of the primary care physician in timely return to work. OMA position paper. Ontario Medical Review, March 2009. https://www.oma.org/Resources/Documents/2009PCPandTimelyReturn.pdf (accessed 2013 Jan 07). ix Ontario Medical Association, The role of the primary care physician in timely return to work. OMA position paper. Ontario Medical Review, March 2009. https://www.oma.org/Resources/Documents/2009PCPandTimelyReturn.pdf (accessed 2013 Jan 07). xCanadian Medical Association, Principles for the Protection of Patients' Personal Health Information. 2004, http://policybase.cma.ca/dbtw-wpd/Policypdf/PD11-03.pdf (accessed 2013 Jan 07). xi Canadian Medical Association, Third Party Forms: The Physician's Role (Update 2010). http://policybase.cma.ca/dbtw-wpd/Policypdf/PD11-04.pdf (accessed 2013 Jan 07).
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