Doctors’ deal to improve patient care, slow spending growth
An amending agreement signed yesterday by government, the Alberta Medical Association (AMA) and Alberta Health Services (AHS) will potentially save up to $500 million in tax dollars over the next two years while improving access to quality care.
“This agreement marks a renewed relationship based on trust and collaboration between government and the AMA as we work together to deliver high quality health care that is affordable and sustainable. The Physician Resource Plan is an example of the commitment to patient care and innovation that we share with the AMA and all of its members as stewards of our health system.”
The amendments will help improve the health system for Albertans in numerous ways, including the development of a needs-based Physician Resource Plan. The plan will identify the supply, distribution and cost of physician resources that Albertans need. Details will be finalized with stakeholders over the coming months.
“The physicians of Alberta are committed to quality care for patients. We also recognize that we need to be part of making the health-care system fiscally sustainable. That is why we entered into negotiations for an amending agreement. We are pleased that what we have achieved moderates health-care expenditure growth and provides for collaboration and shared responsibility in needs-based physician resource planning, savings initiatives and other things. The AMA looks forward to working with the minister, her team, and AHS to implement this agreement. We are optimistic regarding all that we can accomplish together.”
“As an organization, and as a province, we’re making great strides in delivering health care that’s both high-quality and financially sustainable, and this agreement with the AMA represents further progress on both these goals. Albertans will continue to receive outstanding physician care as we continue to build a sustainable health-care system for all Albertans.”
“The AAMDC is pleased to see the introduction of the Physician Resource Plan. Many Alberta rural municipalities have long struggled from an insufficient and inconsistent number of doctors. We are hopeful this new plan will assist rural communities to recruit and retain physicians for the benefit of all their citizens.”
The amending agreement will help keep the health system sustainable in the long term. Alberta spends $1,058 per capita on physicians, the highest in Canada. In recent years, growth in the physician services budget has been between seven per cent and nine per cent annually. The new amended agreement will slow the rate of growth, resulting in potential savings of up to $500 million over the next two years.
In addition to the Physician Resource Plan, amendments include several other initiatives designed to reduce costs and improve patient care:
- New physician peer review and accountability mechanisms, that include reviewing the clinical appropriateness of physician claims and billing best practices, as well as improved governance to strengthen oversight.
- Use of best evidence and engaging physicians to develop a list of fee rule changes to implement over the next six months.
Other features of the amending agreement include:
- Primary care improvements, including new information technology and data-sharing that will enhance care co-ordination.
- New compensation models for some primary-care physicians as well as academic physicians, to reward the kind of quality care and services they provide for Albertans rather than the number of services provided.
- Linking certain benefits and compensation increases to performance on other cost-saving measures.
When votes were counted last month, 74 per cent of voting physicians were in favour of amending the existing 2011-18 master agreement.