N.S. premier wants bigger reductions in unnecessary paperwork for doctors
When it comes to reducing red tape in medicine, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston says first place doesn't matter if you're not moving fast enough.
Last week, a report showed that Nova Scotia leads the country in its effort to reduce unnecessary paperwork that takes away from doctors' time to see patients. Nova Scotia has a goal of reducing administrative burden on doctors by 10 per cent by 2024.
In an interview Monday, Houston said he was not impressed, even as groups such as the Canadian Federation of Independent Business lauded Nova Scotia's efforts and called on other provinces to follow suit.
"Ten per cent by 2024 – not near acceptable," said Houston.
"That is absolutely the opposite of 'go like hell.'"
A review of all forms and their value
Houston called a meeting of a group of deputy ministers and regulatory affairs officials last week where his message was that the reduction goal needs to be reset. He said the new directive is to get rid of all red tape as quickly as possible.
"It would be my expectation that if it's red tape and it's not necessary, then 100 per cent of it be removed. This is a significant amount of doctors' time and effort and energy … They need to have the ability to place their time and energy and effort on patients, not on paperwork."
Doctors Nova Scotia estimates most doctors spend about 10 hours a week dealing with unnecessary paperwork. The premier wants forms reviewed to determine who is using them, who needs them, whether they're necessary at all — and whether they can be streamlined if they are required.
That includes areas that have long been a frustration for doctors: employers requiring sick notes and onerous insurance forms.
"Forms that are required by employers, forms that are required by insurance companies, forms that are required by government departments — all of these things are in the crosshairs," said Houston.
Thousands of hours could be saved
A spokesperson for Doctors Nova Scotia said the top contributors to unnecessary administrative burden include completing medical forms, doctor's notes, business operations, billing and paperwork related to licensing and privileging.
To date, collaborative efforts by officials with Doctors Nova Scotia and the province's Office of Regulatory Affairs and Service Effectiveness have resulted in changes to the employment support and income assistance application, the maternal serum screening process and the credentialing process for the IWK Health Centre.
"Fifteen initiatives are underway to reduce unnecessary administrative burden by the end of 2023, saving physicians 50,000 hours," Alex McNab of Doctors Nova Scotia said in an email to CBC News.
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