Who is caring for Canada’s seniors? New report provides insights on physician services for our aging population
OTTAWA, June 18, 2019 –The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada released today a comprehensive report focusing on the care physicians provide to seniors.
The study, Health Care for an Aging Population: A Study of how Physicians Care for Seniors in Canada, is based on an analysis of 216 million medical services provided by almost 54,000 physicians and hones in on fundamental questions, such as how much care do physicians provide to seniors, how intensively do different specialists focus their practice on seniors and what types of medical care do seniors receive.
“If we do not know how seniors are accessing care and how we are delivering it, then we do not have an accurate idea of how effective we are caring for this population with distinct needs,” says Dr. Andrew Padmos, chief executive officer at the Royal College.
The study findings reveal that
- Although seniors comprised only 16% of the population, they received about one-third of all services provided by physicians in 2015-16.
- Together, family physicians, internists and ophthalmologists provided 85% of all medical services received by seniors in 2015-16 (51%, 23% and 11% provided by each specialty group, respectively).
- Some specialty groups concentrate their practices on medical care for seniors. In fact, seven specialty groups provided more than half of their medical services to seniors: geriatricians (92%), ophthalmologists (62%), cardiovascular/thoracic surgeons (57%), nephrologists (55%), oncologists (54%), cardiologists (53%) and urologists (52%).
- Seniors use relatively more medical services per capita compared to the rest of the population, especially services related to diagnostic and therapeutic procedures (four times more), major surgery (five times more) and hospital care days (10 times more).
- Patient gender is an important consideration in the provision of medical care to seniors. For those aged 65 and older, physicians were more likely to see women but they provided relatively more medical services to men.
- The study calls for a more robust research agenda to provide provincial policymakers with data to inform health workforce planning to support this growing demographic.
“Seniors will continue to be a growing part of Canada’s population and we have good data to show how physicians make unique contributions in caring for them,” says Steve Slade, director of Health Policy and Advocacy at the Royal College. “We’ve been talking about the grey tsunami for years. It’s time to now harness this data to better direct resources, so that we can continue to support seniors in living longer, healthier lives.”
The full report and a media backgrounder are available at www.royalcollege.ca/rcsite/health-policy/senior-care-e
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The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada is the national professional association that oversees the medical education of specialists in Canada. We accredit the university programs that train resident physicians for their specialty practices, and we write and administer the examinations that residents must pass to become certified as specialists. In collaboration with health organizations and government agencies, the Royal College also plays a role in developing sound health policy in Canada.
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