Doctors and healthcare administrators do not see eye-to-eye on future
demands facing the healthcare system in B.C.
VANCOUVER, Jan. 27 /CNW/ - The majority (63%) of British Columbia's
general practitioner medical doctors and almost half (46%) of the province's
specialists said they feel overwhelmed with the amount of patient information
they deal with on a daily basis. At the same time they lack confidence in the
accuracy of patient information, with 58% of GPs and 48% of specialists
suggesting patient health records were only mostly accurate. These are just
some of the findings of a recent Leger Marketing survey of B.C-based doctors
and healthcare administrators commissioned by business analytics leader SAS
Physicians, Facilities, or Funding?
While 56% of GPs, 44% of specialists and 33% of administrators said
healthcare delivery must be improved significantly from its current level, the
survey also revealed a great discrepancy between what doctors and what
healthcare administrators view as the key issues and growth areas facing the
B.C. healthcare system.
All groups agreed that there would be an increase in demand for
healthcare services over the next five years and that an aging population
would be a driving factor behind this increase. However, there was
disagreement about how the increased demand would manifest itself. More than
four times as many doctors as administrators (31% to 7%) said there would be
greater demand for doctors and hospitals, while more administrators than
doctors said there would be greater demand for long-term care facilities (21%
versus a scant 1%).
Additionally, 30% of administrators said the most important issue facing
the healthcare delivery system is funding, while only 10% of GPs and 18% of
specialists agreed. In contrast, doctors (38% for both GPs and specialists)
said the most important issue to address was access to care and long wait
times, while only 10% of administrators agreed this was a top issue.
However, both groups showed strong agreement (30% administrators and 21%
of doctors) that staffing shortage was a major concern. This is consistent
with the B.C. Medical Association concerns over the need for a long-term
health human resource strategy for BC.
"Though doctors and administrators may differ in opinion on the
operational factors that will affect healthcare delivery, they agree that
there is an emerging human resources crisis on the healthcare horizon," said
Bob Smith, Sauder School Adjunct Professor, and Director of Education for the
UBC Centre for Health Care Management. "Having said that, the differences in
opinion that do exist demonstrate that, as the healthcare community improves
access to care, it needs to base decisions on facts rather than hunches."
- Overall, 89% of doctors said there will be an increase in demand on
their practices in the next five years.
- 54% of GPs said they will not be able to deal with the increase in
demands on their practice, while only 17% of specialists said the
- 44% of healthcare administrators were unaware that analytics software
could be used to forecast future population health needs.
- No specialists or administrators said the current state of the system
is satisfactory. One per cent of GPs said the current system is fine.
Electronic Health Records - Not Quite There Yet
Although there is a push across Canada to have patients' health records
made fully electronic at the front line of care, many doctors (29% of GPs and
26% of specialists) do not think this will happen before 2015, while an
additional 21% of GPs and 23% of specialists said they do not believe it will
ever happen. Having said that, 6% of both GPs and specialists said their
patients' health records are fully electronic today.
- Cost, and difficulty of data integration were seen as the two top
barriers to the EHR.
- 10% of specialists said patient health records were not very
accurate. Only one per cent of GPs felt this way.
- 41% of specialists and 30% of GPs said they would need to invest in
technology to help them better manage patient records.
- 90% of GPs and 82% of specialists said they would make better-
informed decisions if the information they had was more relevant to
their decision-making roles.
"With practice sizes growing, technology will play an ever greater role
in the management of patient information," said Brian Shorter, a Healthcare
Consultant with SAS Canada. "Doctors can ill afford spending time verifying,
let alone tracking down, patients' medical records and reports."
Where is the best health care in Canada? When asked which province has
the best healthcare system, Alberta came out on top with 33% of GPs and 36% of
specialists giving their eastern neighbour the nod. Surprisingly, only eight
percent of GPs and 14% of specialists said B.C.; eight percent of GPs and two
percent of specialists said Ontario. Interestingly, seven percent of GPs and
four percent of specialists said the U.S. has the best healthcare system.
Alberta is a leader in Canada with its Netcare eHealth records initiative.
- 32% of GPs would have chosen a different profession if they knew of
the challenges they would face in the medical profession. Only 18% of
specialists felt this way.
- Younger doctors (under 45) were far more optimistic than older
doctors (those over 55) on the benefits of providing patients with
access to their personal electronic health records; 52% said patient
access would help improve health outcomes, versus 19% of the older
- 69% of younger doctors said patient access would also improve the
quality of the health records themselves, while only 38% of older
doctors thought so.
- Over 90% of the doctors' patients not only ask more health-related
questions than in the past, but are also more knowledgeable about
diseases and symptoms.
<a href="http://www.sas.com/offices/NA/canada/downloads/BC_Healthcare_Study.pdf">Download a copy of the B.C. Healthcare Survey Report</a>.
About the Survey
The online survey was conducted for SAS Canada by Leger Marketing between
November 19 and December 2, 2008, with a representative sample of 180
B.C.-based GPs, specialists, and healthcare administrators. The survey is
accurate +/-7.4%, 19 times out of 20.
SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the
largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through
innovative solutions delivered within an integrated framework, SAS helps
customers at more than 45,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by
making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers
around the world The Power to Know(R).
The Canadian subsidiary of SAS has been in operation for 21 years.
Headquartered in Toronto, SAS employs 240 people across the country at its
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For further information:
For further information: Editorial Contact: John Quinn, SAS Canada,
(416) 307-4537; Chris Conrath, Environics Communications, (416) 969-2716;
Visit the SAS Press Center www.sas.com/presscenter