Decisions, Decisions…Family Doctors as Gatekeepers to Prescription Drugs and Diagnostic Imaging in Canada

As the first point of contact with the health care system for many Canadians, family physicians make decisions that affect not only patients’ treatments, but also the health system as a whole. On September 27, 2010, the Health Council of Canada will release a report calling for better management of prescription drugs and diagnostic imaging services in Canada. The report, Decisions, Decisions: Family Doctors as Gatekeepers to Prescription Drugs and Diagnostic Imaging in Canada examines the increasingly complex role of family physicians and the effects of their decisions on usage of Canada’s health care services.

The report finds that physicians are faced with many challenges, that they are prescribing more medications and ordering more diagnostic imaging tests than ever before, and that they need support to avoid inappropriate and overuse of these costly services.

“Family physicians act as ‘gatekeepers’ and play a key role in ensuring that our health care services such as drugs, diagnostics, and specialist services are being used appropriately,” says John G. Abbott, CEO, Health Council of Canada. “Given the host of factors that influence their decision-making, we can do more to assist family physicians in curbing the overuse of diagnostics and drugs, and make significant improvements in managing our health care system.”

Download the full report after September 27 when it is released, and visit their discussion board and blog, where patients and doctors share their experiences and weigh-in on the issues surrounding Canada’s health care system.

About the Health Council of Canada

Created by the 2003 First Ministers’ Accord on Health Care Renewal, the Health Council of Canada is an independent national agency that reports on the progress of health care renewal in Canada. The Council provides a system-wide perspective on health care reform in Canada, and disseminates information on best practices and innovation across the country. The Councillors are appointed by the participating provincial and territorial governments and the Government of Canada.

Keywords: healthcare, doctors, drugs