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'I'm not convinced': Many family doctors hesitant as new B.C. payment model kicks in

(File Photo) (File Photo)

A new payment model for family doctors in B.C. kicked in Tuesday, but many are still hesitant.

The model was first announced in October, with officials hoping it will help address some of the issues the province has in attracting and retaining physicians.

Under the plan, doctors will be paid based on the time they spend with patients, the number of patient visits, the number of patients in their practice and the medical complexity of those patients, officials said at the time.

The province estimates a full-time doctor will receive about $385,000 per year under the new model, up from $250,000 currently.

At a news conference Wednesday, Health Minister Adrian Dix said he believed the change was “the most significant reform to primary care” in his lifetime.

“This is an important moment in the history of the public health-care system. It is not going to improve everything overnight, but it shows our joint determination to make things better,” Dix said, referring to the collaboration between the province and Doctors of BC.

As of Wednesday morning, just over 1,000 doctors had signed onto the new payment plan, about 20 per cent of the roughly 6,500 physicians across the province.

Dix said he believed there will be “many more” in the coming days.

One of those still waiting is Vancouver family physician Dr. Anna Wolak.

“I wasn’t comfortable signing up for it yet and I’m not sure if it’s going to happen or when it’s going to happen,” Wolak said. “It didn’t seem as rosy as was initially made out to be in October/November.”

Wolak said there were still a number of questions that remained unanswered, particularly for doctors with already-established practices, around how the new plan would be of benefit.

“As minimal as the reward is, people are still rewarded for the complexity of their patients. We don’t see that translating yet in the new model,” she said. “There was a document that was sent out, but it was very vague.”

She said at one point officials held a one-hour webinar with doctors, but afterwards, there were still “300 questions that remained unanswered.”

Dix responded to concerns by saying: “We know there will be bumps in the road.”

“There are of course going to be questions under a new model, but the core of this model is to respect the work doctors do,” Dix said. Top Stories

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