RF Highlights

March 25, 2019

Dr. Alison Clarke, AMA President

Dear Members:

An excellent Representative Forum was held March 15-16 in Calgary. I’m writing to give you a brief summary of what happened. You’ll hear more on these topics in future letters.

AMA/CMA Relationship: The RF discussed the importance of continuing a strong working relationship. The value of collaboration is already being demonstrated in the Well Doc initiative to support Alberta physicians. See March 12, 2019 President’s Letter. There are other examples: The CMA recently held a Regional Medical Forum in Edmonton and has many other engagement activities underway in order to understand and meet our needs. Both the Memorandum of Understanding and our strong history together promise more success ahead.

Having said that, the RF considered the specific question of continued joint AMA/CMA membership, bearing in mind the results of the member poll conducted in early March that showed a 50/50 split. In the end, the RF supported choice in the matter. Members will be able to select CMA membership if they wish as of the 2019-20 membership year. The AMA strongly supports the CMA; we will promote membership in and collect dues on behalf of our national association.

Physician Compensation Strategy and Income Equity Initiative: RF delegates raised concerns with the timelines initially laid out for completion of the overhead study. Section-specific preliminary results have now been distributed by Deloitte.

The Board agrees there are significant issues with the product provided by Deloitte. At this stage, we do not know how pervasive they are, but a further assessment is needed before moving forward. We want to take sufficient time to do this work well.

Accordingly, we are creating a small working group drawn from the Primary and Specialty Care Alliances to assist with the review. The results of this work will be reported back to sections, the Board and RF.
We will also write to Alberta Health, the Physician Compensation Committee and Deloitte to advise: that section review and commentary is essential to assess data quality and applicability and that sufficient time has not been given for this task. While we recognize that the Deloitte contract contains certain timelines, it is more important in the end to obtain quality data as we move forward on our Income Equity Initiative.

Healthy Working Environments: The AMA’s new HWE framework has three components: Psycho-Social Wellness and Safety; Leadership; Diversity and Inclusion. Here is a powerful joint statement developed with our external system partners to articulate what we wish to achieve together:

“We have an interest in co-creating equitable and inclusive cultures where all health care team members are respected, valued and supported fairly to achieve their full potential, while improving patient outcomes/satisfaction and supporting system sustainability.”

The RF heard a number of related presentations about:

  • The Well Doc initiative – supported through the AMA/CMA Memorandum of Understanding and led by Dr. Jane Lemaire with Dr. Terrie Brandon of the Physician and Family Support Program.
  • A presentation on the PROactive initiative by Dr. Scott McLeod, Registrar of the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta. PROactive involves health system partners (AMA, CPSA, Alberta Health Services, Health Quality Council of Alberta and the universities) to work together to identify and address the intersections of burnout, disruptive behavior, organizational culture, diversity and physician leadership.
  • A blueprint for physician leadership that links directly to physician wellness from Dr. Johny Van Aerde.
  • Issues in advocating for the transgender patient population from Dr. Michael Marshall.

Negotiations 2020: The Board shared recent thinking about an approach to our next negotiations. We started with information about the issues that are facing physicians in our day-to-day practices, informed by the member issues survey that was conducted February 26 – March 5, with nearly 1,400 member responses. (I’ll share those results with you in an upcoming letter.) We also considered what patients have been telling the AMA through our online community, albertapatients.ca: Some of their concerns are worries about access, staying healthy, becoming caregivers and their confusion about how the system works and what they can expect in the future. Finally, we talked about the financial pressures facing health care and the need to balance questions of value and affordability while striving for a fully integrated system.

In preparing for the fall RF, the Board wants to hear more from physicians. Please watch for member engagement opportunities through relevant surveys, face-to-face events and online discussion.

Shine A Light: My initiative to celebrate the everyday accomplishments of physicians in this province has launched. I’ve been wanting to actively seek out stories and celebrate the work of colleagues who are making a difference by committing themselves to patient care in their communities.

Please see our first feature profile in the current issue of Alberta Doctors’ Digest magazine, where you’ll also find our easy-to-use nomination form. Help us celebrate a deserving colleague or even give yourself a well-earned pat on the back. I am very excited to raise the profile for Alberta physicians so busy with patients and the system that they rarely get the credit they deserve.

I welcome your feedback on these or any other topics. You can (i) reach me by email, (ii) comment to colleagues on our Discussion Board or (iii) make a public comment on our website. The links are here:

Warm regards,

Alison M. Clarke, MD, CCFP, FCFP

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