New Conference Board of Canada Report Highlights PAs as a Key Solution to Canada's Health Workforce Crisis

Published on November 20, 2023

OTTAWA, ON, Nov. 21, 2023  - The Conference Board of Canada (CBoC) has unveiled a report, Unlocking Potential: Exploring Physician Assistant Funding Models and Impact Potential for Three Practice Settings, that highlights the important role that Physician Assistants (PAs) are playing in health systems across Canada, and calls for governments to explore a new funding model that would make it easier for hospitals, primary care teams and physicians to employ PAs allowing for reduced wait times and better access to physicians.

The report, which had input from multiple contributors including the Canadian Medical Association, Alberta Health Services and McMaster University suggests that implementing a discounted billing model for services provided by PAs has the potential to dramatically increase the number of patients seen in emergency departments, primary care, and orthopedic surgery. The report also found that this model allows physicians to focus on patients with urgent or complex needs, enables more patients to have access to primary care, and can reduce physician burnout - all while decreasing costs for the healthcare system.

Adopting employer remunerated funding models that incorporate PAs at a discounted billing rate can achieve significant financial efficiency, patient access to care, and potential savings for Canada's healthcare system.

PAs have been proven to enhance physician practice and resident training, and to improve care in academic surgical settings, according to studies cited in the report. Numerous pilot projects have also demonstrated time and again the value and effectiveness of PAs, including the PA Pilot in Nova Scotia, which resulted in improved access to hip and knee replacement surgeries.

"By leveraging the skills and expertise of PAs, healthcare organizations can enhance patient care and alleviate the strain on existing resources. Allowing more flexibility for physicians and health organizations to hire PAs would allow more patients to get the care they need faster." says CAPA President, Kirsten Luomala.

The findings of the report commissioned by the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA),

are aligned with the global trend of recognizing the crucial role PAs play in healthcare systems worldwide. Canada can also harness the full potential of PAs to address some of the most pressing challenges in healthcare delivery today. CAPA urges Canadian healthcare leaders and policymakers to consider adopting funding models that integrate PAs into various healthcare specialties.

"This report highlights evidence that provides forward momentum for further PA integration across Canada. Until now, there has been very little Canadian data highlighting the potential clinical and economic impact PAs can make to the Canadian Healthcare System. It's a transformative step that can lead to improved access to care, shorter wait times, and better patient experiences," says Conference Board of Canada's Director, Health & Human Capital, Chad Leaver.  

To read the full report, visit:
Unlocking Potential: Exploring Physician Assistant Funding Models and Impact Potential for Three Practice Settings

Watch the Webinar Recording: https://youtu.be/wTt35NByAHY

The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA) is dedicated to advocating for and supporting PAs throughout Canada. We aim to integrate the PA profession into the Canadian healthcare system, enhancing patient access to quality healthcare through established competencies and high standards. Visit https://capa-acam.ca for more information.

For further information: For media inquiries, or to schedule interviews with Conference Board of Canada experts:

Kristy Corrente| Director, Advocacy and Communications, kcorrente@capa-acam.ca, 613-864-6713

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