Physicians are spending millions of hours a year on unnecessary administrative tasks – driving burnout, and in some cases reduced clinical hours, at a time when millions of Canadians are struggling with access to health care. While some provinces and territories have started tackling this issue, according to a 2024 report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, scaling up these efforts, including setting clear reduction targets, are urgently needed. Here’s a snapshot of how red tape impacts both providers and patients and how the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is advocating change.
How much paperwork do physicians do?
How does administrative burden affect physicians?
How does this administrative burden affect patients?
What can we do about it?
There is important work underway to reduce administrative burden in a number of provinces and territories. Scaling up these efforts across the country would have a significant impact on access to care. Here’s what the CMA is calling for:
- Simplify, reduce or eliminate federal forms Physicians, health authorities and governments can work together to streamline administrative work.
- Mandate interoperability of health data EMRs have increased health information exponentially. New national standards are needed to ensure the most meaningful data is clear and accessible to the people who need it most.
- Eliminate unnecessary sick notes A task force in Nova Scotia found that doctors were spending about 100,000 hours a year on sick notes. To fix that, the government passed legislation to prohibit employers from requesting them for short-term absences, and expanded the range of health professionals who can provide them when necessary. Other provinces and territories should consider similar initiatives.
- Fund innovation The CMA has partnered with MD Financial Management and Scotiabank® on the Healthcare Unburdened Grant, a $10 million program to support projects that reduce the administrative burden in medicine to improve physician wellbeing.