Nearly A Third Of Canadians Have Not Seen Their Family Doctor Since COVID-19 Began

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As many as a third of Canadians who have family doctors have not seen their primary care physicians since the COVID-19 pandemic began and another third haven’t seen them as frequently as they normally would, finds a recent survey by KPMG in Canada. Moreover, four in five Canadians believe the pandemic has “irrevocably changed” the healthcare landscape.

“Our poll research confirms what we all suspected, that two-thirds of Canadians have delayed seeing their family physician, putting their personal health at risk and posing potentially serious ramifications to healthcare systems for years to come,” says Aaron Berk, Partner, Healthcare, KPMG in Canada. “While the pandemic has rapidly accelerated the adoption of digital technology in primary healthcare, there is justifiable concern that fully replacing in-person visits with virtual care will lead to greater inequities in health outcomes.”

While 83 per cent of Canadians say family physicians are among the most-qualified anywhere in the world, the KPMG poll reveals satisfaction with the experience of seeing their doctor is just 63 per cent. Further, satisfaction varies widely by income. Those earning less than $30,000 were the least satisfied (48 per cent) with the experience of visiting or seeing their family doctor; whereas, those earning more than $150,000 were the most satisfied (71 per cent).

Key Poll Findings:

  • 85 per cent of the 2,000 Canadians surveyed have a family physician and 15 per cent do not
  • 31 per cent, who have family physicians, have not seen them in person or virtually since the COVID-19 pandemic began; 35 per cent have seen them less than they regularly would; 30 per cent have seen them about the same amount; and, the remaining 4 per cent have seen them more often than they regularly would
  • In terms of wait times:
    • Only 7 per cent of those with primary care physicians were able to get an appointment in less than 24 hours;
    • A third (32 per cent) waited within 24 to 72 hours;
    • 34 per cent waited between 72 hours and one week; and,
    • 27 per cent waited more than one week to get an appointment.
  • Those who identified as Indigenous and those who live in QuebecManitoba, and Prince Edward Island were more likely to wait over a week to see their physician
  • 81 per cent say the COVID-19 pandemic has irrevocably changed the healthcare landscape
  • 56 per cent felt their doctor was using video-conferencing, virtual care, and telehealth services effectively
  • 83 per cent say family physicians in Canada are among the most qualified anywhere in the world
  • 63 per cent were very satisfied or satisfied with their primary care experience
    • 48 per cent with incomes under $30,000 were satisfied
    • 71 per cent with incomes over $150,000 were satisfied

“The pandemic forced family physicians to pivot quickly to virtual care and many Canadians, just over half, feel they’ve adapted effectively, but more can still be done with three in five saying the simple matter of booking an appointment online or via an App is difficult,” says Mr. Berk. “The global trend is shifting from cures to prevention and from in-person to digital-first care. We’re seeing a massive transformation underway that needs to be managed carefully.”

According to a recent Global Healthcare CEO report by KPMG International, 80 per cent of healthcare leaders from eight countries, including Canada, said their industry needs disruption and change. Among the findings in this in-depth global report, 66 per cent of healthcare CEOs expect telemedicine and other digital delivery methods to take on more importance in the future and nearly three in five (59 per cent) are confident that “a significant amount of diagnostics, consultations and treatment will be done digitally instead of in-person.” As well, 70 per cent of global CEOs expect hospitals to evolve into “healthcare hubs” where more complex care is delivered, while the ‘spokes’ of primary care are embedded in the community through multi-specialty clinics, primary care physicians, and digitally enabled monitoring.

A full report on Canadian primary care: Managing Innovation and Opportunity – The Evolving Primary Care Landscape in Canada will be released in October.

KPMG surveyed 2,000 Canadians aged 18+ from June 14-17, 2021 on Delvinia’s AskingCanadians panel using its Methodify online research platform. The margin of error is +/- 2 percentage points.

SOURCE KPMG LLP

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