To protect our universally accessible, publicly funded health care system, we need to take meaningful action to improve key components of our system.
As part of the consultations, the Government of Alberta has made 11 proposals to the AMA to help build a stronger and more sustainable health system while managing physician spending growth.
Proposal 6: Daily caps
Currently, Alberta’s physician fee system has no limits on the number of visit services a physician can claim in one day. This can lead to large patient loads, which may compromise patient safety and quality of care, as well as contribute to physician burnout.
Government is capping the number of visit services a physician can bill daily to enable physicians to practice within reasonable patient loads. The daily cap requirement only applies to the category called “visit services”, which includes limited assessments, comprehensive visits and consultations. It does not apply to other services such as tests or procedures. Similar limits are in place in British Columbia.
This change will give physicians more time with patients and help reduce burnout. Physicians would still be able to provide up to 65 visit services in a single day. On average, family physicians provide 22 visit services per day and a specialist provides 17 visit services per day in an office.
There are a number of exemptions to the daily visit services cap:
- It does not apply to visit services provided in hospitals and rural areas.
- Virtual care is exempt from the daily visit services cap, thereby ensuring patient access to physician care is not affected during this extraordinary time.
- Other exemptions from the daily visit services cap include services such as phototherapy, group counselling, and tests or procedures.