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Implementing a discounted billing model for services provided by PAs could increase the number of patients seen in ERs and primary care.

Skilled PAs Can Reduce the Load on the Canadian Healthcare System

Employing physician assistants may improve efficiency in care delivery and cut down on healthcare dollars

Canadian Association of Physician Assistants
Published:Nov 24, 2023
|2 min read
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OTTAWA, ON — The Conference Board of Canada (CBoC) has unveiled a report 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 and primary care. 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 are key to accessible health care

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.

"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, CD DMSc MPAS CCPA.

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 on 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, MBA.  

- This press release is supported by the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants