Fix for city’s doctor problems could have province-wide implications

Calling it a very complex subject, Northern Health’s Vice-President of Medicine is suggesting there is no one-size-fits-all pay model solution to the current doctor problem in Fort St. John, which he says has province-wide implications.

Doctor Ron Chapman believes there’s a place for both the current methods for compensating physicians in BC, but he also agrees with those who argue that it’s time to look for options other than the fee-for-service, and alternative payment models.


He notes the alternative payment option is what Northern Health chose to use in the new unattached patient clinic in the city, as it tries to attract new doctors to Fort St. John.

But, he also emphasizes the final say on pay model does not rest with the province’s health authorities.

“The negotiations for how we pay physicians is done by the doctors of BC as well as the Ministry of Health in terms of what they will be paying physicians throughout BC,” Chapman said.

“They also made provisions with government on what particular incentives need to be in place to attract physicians to rural communities. They’ve acknowledged that they might have to start exploring other options or models of how to finance physicians, and they’ve actually in the past come up with two funding models:

“One is a fee for service, and the other one is called alternative payments model, where people are being contracted for a fixed amount of income, then they render their services,” he said.

Chapman continued: “Some people like fee for service and I think that’s an important option to always have available,” he said.

“For young physicians or physicians in transition, a model where they don’t particular have to pay overhead is an important option to put on the table. Otherwise, if you don’t do that, you won’t attract physicians and they will go elsewhere.”

Chapman adds that when it comes to recruitment, especially of younger doctors, a pay model which doesn’t include overhead costs is now viewed by many as a plus because it removes both the unwanted time and expense of business management from the physician’s agenda.