Canadian physicians’ responses to cross border health care

Title: Canadian physicians’ responses to cross border health care
Authors: Runnels, Vivien
Labonté, Ronald
Packer, Corinne
Chaudhry, Sabrina
Adams, Owen
Blackmer, Jeff
Date: 2014-04-03
Abstract: Abstract Background The idea for this survey emanated from desk research and two meetings for researchers that discussed medical tourism and out-of-country health care, which were convened by some of the authors of this article (VR, CP and RL). Methods A Cross Border Health Care Survey was drafted by a number of the authors and administered to Canadian physicians via the Canadian Medical Association’s e-panel. The purpose of the survey was to gain an understanding of physicians’ experiences with and views of their patients acquiring health care out of country, either as medical tourists (paying out-of-pocket for their care) or out-of-country care patients funded by provincial/territorial public health insurance plans. Quantitative and qualitative results of the survey were analyzed. Results 631 physicians responded to the survey. Diagnostic procedures were the top-ranked procedure for patients either as out-of-country care recipients or medical tourists. Respondents reported that the main reason why patients sought care abroad was because waiting times in Canada were too long. Some respondents were frustrated with a lack of information about out-of-country procedures upon their patients’ return to Canada. The majority of physician respondents agreed that it was their responsibility to provide follow-up care to medical travellers on return to Canada, although a substantial minority disagreed that they had such a responsibility. Conclusions Cross-border health care, whether government-sanctioned (out-of-country-care) or patient-initiated (medical tourism), is increasing in Canada. Such flows are thought likely to increase with aging populations. Government-sanctioned outbound flows are less problematic than patient-initiated flows but are constrained by low approval rates, which may increase patient initiation. Lack of information and post-return complications pose the greatest concern to Canadian physicians. Further research on both types of flows (government-sanctioned and patient-initiated), and how they affect the Canadian health system, can contribute to a more informed debate about the role of cross-border health care in the future, and how it might be organized and regulated.
CollectionLibre accès - Publications // Open Access - Publications