An eventful year is drawing to a close, though clearly not without problems carrying on to the New Year. The Specialists of BC (SBC) has been very active in 2020. We transitioned to virtual SBC Council meetings because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and our attendance numbers have increased considerably. Avoiding the need for travelling, be it across town or across the province, we are getting more skilled and comfortable with this way of meeting. On the down side, I miss the conversations and networking that happens at in-person meetings. Once COVID-19 settles down, should we consider a mix of in-person and on-line meetings?
SBC has been monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on specialists and advocating for assistance for you. As clinicians, we have moved to mostly on-line appointments with our patients. But when should patient interactions be in-person? The requirement varies among specialties and based on patient presentations. I believe that even post-COVID-19, we are all going to be continuing virtual care as a major component of our practices. Like our SBC Council meetings, it is not the same dealing with a patient on-line or by telephone versus in-person but the efficiency is undeniable for both parties. What is clear is that specialists should not be taking a financial hit trying to adapt to a raging pandemic. The SBC was instrumental in getting rapid approval of virtual fee codes and expanding payment for telephone visits, a legitimate life saver — we have prevented infections while caring for our patients!
The pandemic has also brought with it the need for a whole lot of personal protective equipment. Again, as we struggle to keep us and our patients safe, we should not have to bear the cost of provisioning PPE unilaterally. The SBC has been advocating diligently with the Doctors of BC and Health Authorities. I do believe progress is being made and the government is stepping up to supply the PPE needs of specialists.
Most organizations need to change and adapt over time. The SBC certainly does. We are proactively examining the role, finances and governance of the SBC through our Renewal Working Group to best meet the needs of the specialist physicians and surgeons in BC. We must examine our dues and membership models to ensure we can function effectively. But let’s face it: Where else can all the different specialties talk together about the common and specialty-unique needs of specialists?
I hope you all stay safe and productive in the coming year, and that those of you who celebrate Christmas have a peaceful holiday season. As always, we are here if you have questions, and we hope you will join/rejoin the Specialists of BC for 2021 when you receive your membership renewal package from Doctors of BC this month.