Ontario Drops Annual Physicals

As of the beginning of January, healthy patients between the ages of 18 and 64 will no longer receive a full annual physical from their physician. Instead, patients will receive “personalized health reviews” which will involve limited examination, fewer tests and more discussion.

The change is a result of the recent collective bargaining agreement between the Ontario Medical Association and the Ministry of Health. The move is expected to save the province an estimated $29 million per year.

The OMA states that there is little evidence to show that a head-to-toe exam for healthy people with no complaints is helpful. Some physicians disagree with this position. In a recent newspaper interview Kanata physician Merrilee Fullerton stated that the province’s decision may make sense economically, but it does not take into account the needs of the patient, and in effect restricts care. Dr. Fullerton went on to say that having to spend less time on a physical may allow doctors to push more people through in a day – “We’re moving away from the time that is needed to address things on a more personal level.

Sanjay Shah, president of ExecHealth, agrees. “We will continue to provide full physicals and invest in diagnostic equipment. We feel that early detection and prevention of disease is critical, and over the long term will save the health care system the extremely high costs associated with treating preventable disease.”