Physician Switch Policy
A question that occasionally arises is whether patients are able to switch between different Santé Alliance Health physicians after having had their initial intake appointment. The answer is almost always no for the reasons that follow.
There are several different reasons that relate to ensuring physicians working in a collaborative team environment can deliver the best long-term patient care possible:
Maximizing physician availability
One particularly time-consuming task for physicians is the work associated with taking over responsibility for the care of a patient. On average, every new patient involves several hours of work comprising an initial half-hour meeting, a detailed review of their old medical records, and constructing and configuring an optimized patient medical record.
This investment of time and resources is entirely wasted in the event of a switch as the new physician needs to redo this entire process. In the aggregate, restricting switches between Santé Alliance Health physicians therefore helps maximize physician availability to provide actual medical care, as opposed to spending time on administrative matters
Preventing the screening of patients
Restricting switches between physicians supports the philosophy that physicians must take patients as they come, for better or for worse, and helps ensure Santé Alliance Health physicians continually work hard to provide the best possible care for all of their patients
Supporting sound physician decision making
As a professional, it is a physician’s duty to provide appropriate and quality medical care. Fulfilling this duty means sometimes saying no to patient requests or making an unpopular treatment recommendation. In such circumstances, some patients may wish to seek out a second opinion.
All our physicians are well trained and follow up to date guidelines in making treatment recommendations. In a collaborative team-based clinic, a patient unhappy with one of the providers at Santé Alliance Health is not likely to be satisfied with another provider within the clinic.
Patients deserve independent second opinions, which requires seeing a physician at a different clinic altogether.
Other benefits of this policy are:
In addition to the reasons for this policy discussed above, there are several additional benefits worth noting.
One positive outcome is a reduction in transfers of responsibility between physicians for patient care. Such transfers are known to increase the risk of administrative and medical errors; minimizing the frequency and need for such transfers in turn reduces the risk of such errors.
Another positive outcome is the promotion of long-term patient-physician relationships which research has evidenced reduces morbidity and mortality. As with every relationship, there may be some bumps in the road; restricting intra-clinic switches promotes overcoming these challenges.
Lastly, this policy is consistent with our family-friendly staffing policies. In the specific scenario of parental leave, we actually take an even stricter approach on not ever allowing switches from the physician on leave to another Santé Alliance Health physician.
Switching physician based on physician's gender
This policy applies even in situations where a particular patient is requesting a switch based primarily on physician gender. The reasons relate to the following:
- all Sante Alliance Health physicians are fully qualified to provide primary care to men, women (including expectant mothers), seniors, children, and infants;
- as an organization, we believe in and promote equality and respect for all and have an obligation to not discriminate or support discrimination;
- we do not assign patients to physicians taking into account factors such as physician age, ethnicity, or gender; and
- when available, we offer patients the opportunity to request a special accommodation prior to their first intake appointment.