More good news for Canadian Heath Tech: The Atlantic Physician Register

The announcement that the Atlantic provinces has created an inter-provincial physician register is more good news for Canadian Healthcare. Expected to launch May 1, the Atlantic Physician Register will allow physicians to work interprovincially by facilitating the ability of doctors to treat patients in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and PEI.

The restriction placed on physicians to practice medicine in different provinces and territories has been critiqued for many years. A primary objective of this registry (and policy) is to improve the recruitment and retention of physicians in the region. Importantly, there are many other benefits, including the implementation and adoption of health technology.

A centralized registry in Atlantic Canada will facilitate the provision of virtual care across provincial boundaries, where a doctor's location will not dictate his or her patient roster. This is excellent news for patients and families in a small province like PEI, where access to highly specialized care is limited.

The registry will also facilitate improvements in clinical and administrative workflows. While this is not exactly sexy, clinical registries have been a frustrating impediment to the implementation and adoption of many innovative health technologies. Documentation and administration serves an important purpose in healthcare; it can’t and shouldn’t be eliminated. But there are some processes that can be improved - through a combination of better policies and the adoption of technology - that can reduce the burden on individual physicians without compromising quality or patient safety.

While this new registry will not eliminate the unique requirements related to provincial billing codes and hospital credentialing, it is a step forward for physicians and patients.  

Like the recent involvement of the Federal government in tying new investment to improved outcomes this Atlantic alliance is a move that has the potential to shine a light on the barriers of our current provincial and territorial governance structures, and highlights how strategic changes to old policies will help accelerate innovation in Canadian healthcare.

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