A key strategic goal of Doctors of BC is to achieve the highest standard of health care for the public in addition to creating a favourable social, political, and economic climate for physicians. Achieving these goals involves understanding public needs and advocating for them when appropriate as well as promoting matters that improve the health and safety of the public. To do this, we create policy on important health care issues and advocate for health promotion in a manner that influences positive change for the public.
Doctors of BC has a long history of this work primarily through the Council on Health Promotion (COHP), which has been in existence for over 60 years and has helped develop and advocate on policies relating to health promotion and disease and injury prevention. Examples of this work over the years include creating policy and advocating for the use of bike helmets, seatbelt legislation, cannabis regulations, and a ban on distracted driving. Our current and ongoing policy on key issues is outlined below.
As evidenced by the ongoing overdose crisis, mental illness, problematic substance use, and addiction are health issues of significant concern in BC. Unfortunately, these problems can be exacerbated by fragmented services, under-funding, lack of support, and stigma. To speak to these issues, Doctors of BC has developed policy on depression, addiction, ADHD, and youth mental health.
Better helping individuals suffering from depression and addiction requires a collaborative approach among stakeholders to provide adequate service funding, reduce barriers to treatment, develop effective physician education, expand research capacity and continue to explore innovative improvements in quality of care. There are unique challenges related to youth mental health that can be addressed by increasing awareness of available youth-related mental health resources, involving family physicians in helping youth with mental health concerns, and collaboration by key stakeholders to improve capacity and accessibility of mental health services. Improving care for ADHD patients should involve developing a strategic plan for ADHD service delivery, supporting youth with ADHD in transitioning to adult care, reducing wait times for ADHD services, supporting collaborative care arrangements for ADHD patients, increasing access to ADHD medication, and utilizing ADHD practice guidelines.
Dementia is a complex and degenerative condition that erodes an individual’s cognitive abilities and can be highly stigmatizing.
Dementia impacts a significant number of British Columbians and this impact is expected to increase with an aging population. In response, Doctors of BC has developed two key policies on dementia that advocate for improved care and an increased focus on prevention.
Family caregivers are individuals who provide care and assistance, without pay, to family or friends with debilitating physical, mental or cognitive conditions. Research shows that the majority of home care is provided by family caregivers and yet they remain invisible in the BC health system. Doctors of BC has developed policy to identify how physicians and government can play a role in supporting family caregivers.
Doctors and other health care providers play a critical role when disasters strike. However, doctors have not historically been part of emergency preparedness and planning processes which takes place in advance of a disaster. In recognition of the important role that physicians can play both before, during, and after a disaster, Doctors of BC has developed policy on integrating physicians in disaster preparedness and emergency management.
A population health approach recognizes that multiple factors contribute to the overall health of a population, and these factors are referred to as determinants of health. Improving the health of the BC population requires addressing determinants of health. However, efforts to improve determinants of health are often impeded by underfunding, silos in government and healthcare, and lack of targeted initiatives for vulnerable populations. As such, Doctors of BC has developed policy to speak to these gaps and advocate for improvements in population health.
Evidence points overwhelmingly to the value of preventive healthcare services. For instance, years of research have demonstrated that clinical prevention services such as childhood immunizations, smoking cessation advice, and health promotion programs deliver economic, social, and health benefits far beyond their initial costs. As such, Doctors of BC has developed policy in regard to the development of lifetime disease prevention planning.
Advance care planning is a process by which a capable adult talks over their beliefs, values, and wishes for health care with their close family/friend(s) and a health care provider in advance of a time when they may be incapable of deciding for themselves. Advance care planning improves patient, family, and provider experience at the end of life by helping avoid overly aggressive treatment and increasing patient and family satisfaction with end-of-life care. Despite the benefits of advance care planning, many British Columbians have not developed and advance care plan. Therefore, Doctors of BC has developed policy to support physicians with their role in advance care planning and to encourage patients to develop an advance care plan.
Advance care planning can be expanded in BC by increasing training for healthcare providers, increasing awareness of existing advance care planning resources, integrating advance care plans with patient records, and improving communication between providers and patients with chronic and complex life-limiting illnesses.