Canadian MD graduates have increased by 60% over the past 10 years (i.e. 1,757 to 2,804).
It would seem that this should mean that fewer patients would be flooding walk-in clinics and emergency rooms with minor ailments.
Contrary to that notion, the percentage of men, women, and children who have regular family doctors are not increasing at a sizable rate. Why would that be?
Perhaps it is because a good proportion of clinic have a ‘Walk-in’ option in their offices.
Therefore patients choose to go to the most convenient clinic to their current location.
Or perhaps it is because the methods for remunerating doctors are changing across the country.
Ontario, for example, is using capitation, i.e., compensation based on the number of patients on a doctor’s roster, regardless of how often a patient sees their doctor.
This allows doctors to take their time with each patient as they are no longer paid per service required and each patient that was seen. Keep in mind, that there is a cap on the number of patients per doctor’s roster.
In any case, when Canadians need health services they need access to a doctor, and more and more people, are frequenting walk-in clinics.
But today, with few doctors accepting new patients, there has been a significant increase in the number of people using walk-in clinics for matters that would be appropriately dealt with seeing a family doctor(PAP tests, general health check-ups, etc.)
In June 2014, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC revised the professional standards for walk-in clinics to reflect this transition.
Clinics are now required to keep detailed medical records of the patient, contact the patient regarding labs results, and offer follow-up appointments if patients do not have access to their own GP, as well as have access to Pharmanet BC, the provincial database that tracks current prescriptions and histories. This ensures a proper paper trail of medical records so a doctor can better diagnose each patient.
You are generally able to get in and out of the office relatively quickly and stress-free. Walk-in clinics, on the other hand, often have wait times of 15 minutes to 2 hours. This can make an already uncomfortable situation even worse. Not to mention that without a proper medical history, how can a doctor be expected to properly treat complex concerns..?