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MD Physician Council explores COVID’s impact on profession

         A professional woman having a video conference call on her laptop.

Our third MD Physician Council meeting, held in June (and the second one to be conducted virtually), occurred more than three months after the pandemic ignited. It is clearly still a very stressful and uncertain time for Canadian doctors. I’d like to thank all of the members for carving out time on a Friday afternoon to make it happen, despite many being on-call. The Council candidly explored the most pressing issues in a very insightful discussion.

The meeting came on the heels of a two-day workshop in which the MD leadership team built strategies and set objectives for the new fiscal year, so there could not have been a better time to gain the Council’s guidance on what issues we should prioritize in the coming year.   

Before we look ahead, though, we must address real-time concerns among Canadian physicians, as our Council members and MD teams have been hearing over the past few months.

Insights into a pandemic

COVID-19 has pushed virtual care to the forefront, which meant physicians needed to figure out quickly how to customize this new service. While some who practise in provinces with low numbers of COVID-19 anticipate being able to provide more in-person care soon (aided by physical distancing and disinfecting measures), there is no doubt that virtual care will continue – particularly in primary care, where practitioners have found that it’s well received by patients. How these appointments should be billed, of course, remains a discussion point. For wellness checks and other general appointments, a phone or video call is convenient; still, it will be important to hold clinically significant meetings in person.

We also discussed that the impact of COVID-19 is being felt across the entire physician community. The Council confirmed that there are significant continued economic pressures on doctors. Those closer to retirement, some of whom may have underlying health issues, are moving forward with their retirement plans, but despite the early retirement trend, underemployment among doctors remains a significant risk. The most vulnerable are new graduates, who face more limited opportunities to join existing physician pools, especially if those teams are grappling with vastly reduced billings.  

Priorities for MD 

The toll COVID-19 is taking, and will take, on Canadian physicians is the main focus of MD today, and for the foreseeable future. We’ve pivoted toward virtual client meetings and are thrilled that they’ve had a 90% satisfaction rate. The Physician Council suggests that virtual meetings will have a place moving forward, even after the pandemic dissipates. After COVID-19 has passed and we can safely welcome our clients back into our offices, we will continue to offer both virtual and in-person meetings with MD Advisors*.

In consultation with the Council, we’ve established these three areas as our top priorities for the coming year:

1) Client financial literacy: Understanding that MD plays a key role in financial wellness for physicians, we will assess how we can best provide literacy to suit your individual needs. If there are specific areas you’d like to learn more about, or if you have ideas on how you’d like literacy delivered, please let us know.

2) Advisor transition: It’s critical that the transition to a new Advisor is seamless, and that we find the right Advisor for each client.

3) Appointment scheduling and reminders: We recognized that self-scheduling options and appointment reminders are a needed and overdue feature for busy physicians. We are currently piloting these options, and anticipate that they will be deployed soon.

 The next Council meeting will take place in the fall with a focus on learning about the broad impact of the responsible investing movement, and what MD’s strategy is regarding this important topic.

Stay tuned for more as we roll out initiatives designed to address the above-noted priorities – and please let us know if you feel there is an area where MD can be of support.

As always, if you have specific feedback to share, don’t hesitate to contact your MD Advisor or the Council via at any time.

Please stay safe, stay well, and enjoy your summer.

 * MD Advisor refers to an MD Management Limited Financial Consultant or Investment Advisor (in Quebec), or an MD Private Investment Counsel Portfolio Manager.