After consulting with more than 275 people through its 2020 Member Forums, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) has released the final roll-up report on what it heard.
During the day-long forums, held in six cities in February and early March 2020, physicians and medical learners were asked to consider three topics: access to care, physician health and wellness, and visioning the future.
On access to care, forum participants told CMA staff and board members that a lack of health care providers in remote and rural communities, disparities and inflexibility in payment models across regions, and poor integration of health systems and digital tools were all key factors in limiting access.
“When services are coordinated, we save time, resources and costs while improving access.” - Member Forum participant
Opportunities for improving physician health and wellness were also explored, with participants reporting that the following actions would have the most impact on their health and wellness in their everyday practice:
- developing a standardized definition of wellness and national standards to measure wellness;
- ensuring physicians’ voices are represented in health care advocacy efforts;
- ensuring confidentiality and anonymity for physicians requesting mental health support;
- providing mentorship and dedicated supports, such as transition planning and skills training, for physicians at key milestones; and
- promoting a culture shift away from “shame-based learning” toward a kindness and coaching model.
“Physician wellness should be a right and be built into the work environment — it should be a key performance indicator for the health care system.” - Member Forum participant
The future visioning portion of the forums also revealed many potential disruptions facing health care in the next two decades, including the replacement of physician services through AI and robotics, more personalized and privatized medicine, more access to data and perhaps most prescient, the emergence of global pandemics.
This “future” disruption – identified at the forums – ended up becoming a reality just weeks later, when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, forcing the cancellation of the final two forums in London and Fredericton.
The feedback and ideas brought forward during the Member Forums and detailed in the final report play an important role in shaping the CMA’s future work.
Shortly after the pandemic began, the CMA took what it heard about improving access to care and worked with medical experts to create a guide for physicians on offering virtual care services, as well as a complementary guide for patients.
Similarly, after hearing about the need for confidential and anonymous physician mental health support, the CMA launched the Wellness Support Line, to provide 24/7 counselling to physicians, residents and medical students.
The next opportunity for members to provide input on the CMA’s strategy and advocacy comes August 23, at the CMA Annual General Meeting. The virtual meeting includes live webcasting of all proceedings, secure online voting (for those with voting privileges), and a moderated Q&A session with CMA board members.