Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Contact Us

Contact Us

Can’t find the answer you were looking for? Here are some places you can get detailed information. Our teams are standing by to help, we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Billing and fees

economics@doctorsofbc.ca

Virtual care supports

DTOinfo@doctorsofbc.ca
604 638 5841

Physician counselling available to you

www.physicianhealth.com
info@physicianhealth.com
1 800 663 6729

Insurance and benefits

insurance@doctorsofbc.ca
604 638 2904 or toll free at 1 800 665 2262 ext. 2904. 

Communications

communications@doctorsofbc.ca

Still need help? 

E-mail us with questions and comments
covid19@doctorsofbc.ca

COVID-19 Resources and Support for Physicians

Doctors of BC is taking active steps to support our members with respect to Coronavirus (COVID-19). Our work includes: advocacy on behalf of physicians with government, the Provincial Health Officer and health authorities; and ensuring our members have access to appropriate benefits and insurance. 

A dedicated email address has been created to provide members one point of contact for COVID-19 concerns, questions, or comments. Please email covid19@doctorsofbc.ca.

This page provides physicians with a resource on information from Doctors of BC. We will continue to update it regularly.  

 

Clinical and Practice Supports

The Doctor is In: Recommendations for expanding in-person care in physician practices 
The report compiles and summarizes guidelines for increasing in-person visits in community physician offices, it includes a template for physicians to develop a plan for their own office or clinic.

Webinar recording – Update to community-based specialists on in-person patient care
The Specialist Services Committee hosted a webinar to address concerns and questions relating to the office practices and starting of in-person care for community based-specialists. Panelists and guest speakers included representatives from Doctors of BC, College of Physicians & Surgeons of BC, and the Specialist Services Committee. Click here to find a PDF summary of the webinar.

Direction on re-opening of physician offices
Includes guidance from the Provincial Health Officer, College of Physicians and Surgeons, WorksafeBC and the BCCDC.

Getting Patients Back to Practice Guide
Provides step-by-step clinical workflow recommendations, examples of kinds of visits that could be done virtually vs in-clinic, sample communications templates and tips on how to re-build clinical visit volumes through proactive outreach. 

Webinar recording - Getting Patients Back to Practice and Navigating the New Norm  
A panel of physicians shared success stories and lessons learned about re-building clinic visit volumes during COVID-19, tips and tricks for operating in a hybrid virtual/in-person model and best practices for communicating with patients about virtual/in-person visits. 

 

Doctors of BC billing and fee code changes

Temporary billing and fee code changes in response to COVID-19
Doctors of BC and the BC government have agreed on a range of fee code changes to support increased use of virtual care and to address other challenges to patient care resulting from COVID-19. Includes GPSC and SSC changes.

Business Cost Premium expands to include telehealth fees during COVID-19
Effective May 1, the Business Cost Premium (BCP) will be temporarily expanded to apply to telehealth fee items, including phone and video communication with patients. ​

 

Virtual Care

Doctors of BC: How to Use Virtual Care Guide 
Expanding virtual care allows physicians to provide care remotely and limit the possibility of COVID-19 transmission while ensuring effective primary care coverage. 

Doctors of BC: Support for physician outreach on virtual care
Guidelines, templates and resources for physicians to spread the word about virtual care to patients through communications, social media and local media. 

Zoom licenses available free of charge to BC physicians
Our Doctors Technology Office and the PHSA are providing 10,000 Zoom licenses free of charge to BC physicians for one year.

 

Insurance, Benefits & Income Supports 

Doctors of BC: Insurance & Benefits During COVID-19
In addition to temporary billing changes, Doctors of BC is supporting physicians and their staff with regards to insurance and benefits claims related to COVID-19.

Doctors of BC and MD Financial: Navigating COVID-19 - Considerations, Assistance and Resources Webinar Recording
Discussion of federal programs, provincial measures, and financial planning available for physicians, recorded May 14, 2020.

MD Financial: COVID-19 federal and provincial financial support – what do physicians qualify for?
This document provides information on benefits physicians may qualify for as well as a decision tree. Please consult your accountant for more complete advice specific to your financial circumstances

MD Financial: List of Federal and provincial supports for individuals and small businesses
Both the federal and provincial governments have put supports in place to assist small businesses, including physician practices, struggling financially as a result of COVID-19.

 

Physician Health and Wellness 

Physician Health Program: Supports for physicians, trainees, and family members
To support the health and wellbeing of physicians and health care providers during this challenging time, the Physician Health Program has additional resources in place to provide counselling support for everyone who needs it. 

Physician Health Program: Virtual Peer Support Sessions
Starting Tuesday, April 7, PHP will be offering free drop-in COVID-19 Physician Peer Support Sessions via Zoom every Tuesday and Thursday from 4-5pm PST. Email peersupport@physicianhealth.com for the link. Join by phone or video. 

Managing Anxiety and Stress in Families with Children and Youth During the COVID-19 Outbreak
The Child & Youth Mental Health & Substance Use (CYMHSU) Community of Practice (funded by Doctors of BC and the BC government) provides information and advice on managing anxiety and stress in families with children and youth during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

External Resources on Physician Health and Wellness:

 

Answers to FAQs

Telemedicine

Doctors are being encouraged to see patients via telemedicine when possible, and in person when the situation warrants it. To help, we have compiled a list of virtual care resources and supports: New guides for physicians on using virtual care

We also encourage physicians to reach out to complex care patients, check in on their conditions, and have advance care planning conversations – these are all billable services and a good way to support patients during this difficult time.

 

Billing changes

Doctors of BC and the BC government have agreed on temporary billing changes to enable physicians to better utilize virtual care, reducing the need for people to attend physician offices in person. New, temporary fee codes have also been introduced to address added costs of treating patients with COVID-19 in physician offices.

 

Available Federal/Provincial Support Financial Supports

A number of physicians are asking about access and criteria for federal and provincial financial supports. Given each physician has different circumstances, we are directing physicians to some helpful resources developed by MD Management. This includes: 

  • Covid Support Measures: At a Glance (a guide to relevant supports based on your career stage and your practice type, with a link specifically to BC measures ), and
  • Take the quiz located at the top of this page designed to tailor to your practice type  
It is important to remember that these resources are only meant as a guide. Because each physician’s situation is different, and the benefits themselves are still evolving – we recommend that physicians consult their accountant to determine which programs they can access and the steps for applying. 
 
In addition to these supports, we continue to monitor new supports or programs that are announced. 
 
 
 
Prescribing Changes in a virtual world

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC has made amendments to existing prescribing practices to ensure patients are able to receive their medication when physicians are providing virtual medical care.    

Wet signatures and telephone prescribing for new prescriptions remain a requirement in the community setting, per the College of Pharmacists, which won't change until IT is more secure.  However, Doctors Technology Office (DTO) has received GPSC funding to support physicians in getting/paying for eFaxing capabilities, and is also working with EMR vendors to support the development of a unique electronic signature by way of digital pen or mouse. Physicians with the capability while working virtually can fax prescriptions in that they have signed, but they will need to provide their College ID and a phone number in case the pharmacist has questions.

 
Sick notes

Doctors of BC has been advocating for an end to the requirement for sick notes since 2014, and is again requesting that employers not require sick notes during the COVID-19 outbreak. This concern was brought to the attention of Public Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, who in early March stated: there is “no need – none – for sick notes at this time.”  

We understand that despite government’s statement, sick notes are still being requested by some employers. As a response, we wrote a news article further articulating our position.

As well, BC Family Doctors has created a template letter for employers explaining why sick notes should not be requested at this time.

 

PPE

Doctors of BC continues to work closely with health authorities and the Provincial Health Office to ensure that the concerns of doctors, health care workers, and patients are heard during this difficult time. We know accessing PPE is a top priority for our community physicians as well as those who work in facilities.

We have been in discussions with each health authority around supply and distribution of PPE supplies and put together the list below. This  contact information is for physicians who have offices outside of hospitals. Please note, given the continuing supply and distribution concerns of PPE, contacting the Health Authority may or may not guarantee access to supplies. Doctors of BC continues to advocate on this challenging issue.

1. Northern Health
Contact: Mark De Cross, CFO for Northern Health
Email: ppe.request@northernhealth.ca
 
2. Fraser Health
Contact: Fraser Health PPE Community Support Desk 
Phone: 604-561-2037
Email: PPECommunitysupport@fraserhealth.ca
 
3. Vancouver Coastal & Providence Health Care – Community based physicians
Fill out order form (VCH Community Services Form) and save on your computer
Email completed order as an attachment to: VCHCOVID-19CentralSupply@vch.ca (click on link to bring up email) 
The team managing the central supply will confirm the order and reach out for any payment due.
PPE will be suppled for a 3-5 day period at one time and physicians must use PPE in accordance with the provincial guidelines outlining prolonged PPE use.
 
4. Interior Health
Contact: IH PPE Coordinator, Pandemic Response
Email: Lisa.Jameson@interiorhealth.ca
 
5. Island Health
No specific contact provided. We recommend physicians contact the Emergency Operations Committee via Medical Affairs at the following contact: Email: MedStaffEngagement@viha.ca 
 
6. PHSA
Contact: ppesupport@phsa.ca
PHSA will supply anyone on their medical staff with PPE for their Community Practices. Otherwise physicians should contact the respective Health Authority in which they work. 

Retired doctors/residents recuitment

In order to help meet the increasing demands on the capacity of the health-care system, the College of Physicians and Surgeons has made temporary emergency registration options available to physicians who meet these eligibility requirements:

  • BC physicians who recently retired (no more than two years ago)
  • R5 and R4 residents in internal medicine who hold RCPSC certification and LMCC, upon request by a health authority
  • Physicians in the academic class of registration
  • Clinical fellows in the last year of their three-year fellowship
  • Physicians licensed for independent practice elsewhere in Canada 
Physicians who meet these requirements may be deployed on an as-needed basis, depending on the specific needs of each health authority.
 
For more information, please contact the College of Physicians and Surgeons by email at this dedicated address: emergency@cpsbc.ca.

 

IMG recruitment

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC has gathered physician feedback on a proposed bylaw change to allow international medical graduates (IMGs) to be registered with the College as an Associate Physician to provide needed support (under supervision) in acute care settings. Work on this began far in advance of our current pandemic, although these IMGs would likely begin work as soon as possible, and would create a permanent new category of physician licensure. More information can be found on the College website here.

 

 

External Resources

Practice Resources & Guidelines

Guidelines for expanded testing for COVID-19 (June 1 update)
The updated guidelines advise that testing should be done of all individuals with new respiratory or systemic symptoms compatible with COVID-19, however mild, and details groups who should have testing priority. Physicians and other healthcare providers can also order a COVID-19 test for any patient based on their clinical judgment.

BCCDC on immunization services during COVID-19
The BC Center for Disease Control provides guidance to immunization providers on prioritization of infant, childhood and adult immunization programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BCCDC: COVID-19 Information & Resources for Health Care Professionals
The BC Centre for Disease Control provides the most up-to-date information about the rapidly evolving COVID-19 outbreak in British Columbia, including a list of COVID-19 designated hospitals

BCCDC & Ministry of Health: COVID-19 PPE Allocation Framework
Framework to guide decision-making on what type of PPE individuals working or visiting health care settings will receive in the event of a pandemic when demand for PPE overwhelms supply. 

CPSBC: Scope of Practice Update
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia has issued an update on scope of practice changes to support health human resource needs during the pandemic.  

College of Pharmacists: Temporary Prescription Authorization for Controlled Drugs and Substances
Pharmacists are temporarily permitted to extend and renew prescriptions, transfer prescriptions to other pharmacists, verbally prescribe prescriptions with controlled substances, and allow pharmacy employees to deliver prescriptions of controlled substances to patients at their homes or alternate locations during the COVID-19 outbreak.