Dear Dr. ,

Last month, I took over as President of Doctors Manitoba. It's my privilege to lead our Association for the next year. I commit to being guided by the issues and concerns of physicians and medical learners, and to continue pressing for the supports you need to deliver exceptional care to your patients. 

Today, I'm writing with an important update about new "record keeping" regulations proposed by Manitoba Health, a major change that has many physicians concerned about a significant increase in administrative burden. 

What's the concern?
Before I get to the update, let me remind you why this regulation has been a top concern for physicians and, by extension, for Doctors Manitoba. 

The proposed regulation outlined over 20 documentation requirements for all physicians submitting fee-for-service claims. While some of the requirements overlap with existing documentation practices mandated by CPSM or in the Physician's Manual, our assessment is that some of the requirements may be new for many physicians, which would mean more time for paperwork and less for patient care. 

Our analysis suggested that the motivation for the proposed regulation was not about improving patient care, but rather to make the job easier for the auditors reviewing physician billings. The Auditor General of Manitoba recently reviewed physician billings and determined the province already has all the regulatory tools it needs to effectively audit physician billings. In fact, the Auditor General instead recommended more training for the auditors, often former police officers or accountants with no previous medical or health records education.  

We have heard from members that these proposed requirements would result in additional, and often repetitive, charting that would not enhance patient care.

In a preliminary consultation we conducted we found that:

  • Nearly three quarters of physicians said the regulations would add to their administrative burden.
  • Physicians estimated the regulations could add an average of 72 minutes of documentation each day. 

In addition to taking time away from patients, there's a clear link between physician burnout and excessive administrative burden, with some studies finding it to be a top contributor. At this moment, after two years of COVID-19, with physician burnout already at an all-time high, it is clearly the wrong time to consider adding more documentation to physicians' workloads.

What did Doctors Manitoba do about it?
We pushed back hard against this proposed regulation. It is unnecessary, it could reduce time available for patient care, and the timing for physicians could not be worse. 

Our Past President, Dr. Kristjan Thompson, contacted the government to express physicians’ concerns. You can see his letter here, in which he detailed our concerns, concluded the regulation is unnecessary, and asked government to withdraw it completely. Doctors Manitoba also sent a detailed submission to the government's consultation on the proposed regulation, and worked with several physicians submitting their concerns independently. 

We also found a partner in pushing back against what really would be new red tape on physicians. The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) joined our advocacy, writing to the government, that “the proposed regulatory amendments appear to be a step backward in the province’s commitment to reducing the regulatory burden for small businesses in Manitoba.” They urged the government "to reconsider this proposed regulation.”

We've also had several meetings with senior government officials, outlining our concerns. 

The Latest Update - A Win for Doctors!
After several meetings, help from many physicians, and through our collaboration with CFIB, we received the following important update from Manitoba Health earlier this week. I am happy to report that the government has listened. 

The "regulation is going to be withdrawn," they wrote to us. "We would not want to create an unnecessary administrative burden for physicians." 

While we had planned for the worst on this issue--including a strategy to take our concerns public--those plans are no longer needed. Our hope for the best, along with respectful but firm advocacy on your behalf, prevailed. 

In fact, I believe it is important to offer credit where credit is due. I must recognize the actions of Premier Heather Stefanson and Health Minister Audrey Gordon, who took the time to listen to physicians' concerns and ultimately made the call to withdraw the regulations. There may be some parts of the provincial government and bureaucracy that believe more administrative burden for physicians is the road to better accountability, but those in charge listened and took action.

While this is just one of the many serious concerns physicians have after two years of pandemic disruptions and uncertainty, my assessment is that when we approach an issue based on facts, respect and constructive feedback, the government is willing to listen and respond to our concerns. 

Doctors Manitoba will never waver from our mission to strengthen and support the whole physician. I'm interested in hearing from you about what you think needs our action and attention. I invite you to contact me with your concerns and ideas by emailing [email protected]. 

President 2022-2023