Wasting time – that’s what paperwork does for Canada’s physicians, according to a new report.

The “Patients before Paperwork” report released on Monday said physicians are losing hours equal to 55 million patient visits per year. This is due to unnecessary paperwork and administrative tasks, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) said.

This red tape carves time out of a doctor’s day, and prevents them from treating or taking-on new patients, the report said.

“It is also a significant cause of physician burnout, which is at an all-time high,” said Dr. Candace Bradshaw, the president of Doctors Manitoba.

According to the report, roughly 18.5 million hours of physician time in Canada is being wasted yearly – either by unnecessary jobs, or by jobs that could be done by somebody else.

The CFIB estimated this loss by extrapolating numbers from a past study done exclusively in Nova Scotia. 

That study said Nova Scotia physicians spent more than 10 hours per week doing administrative work, and that 38% of it was unnecessary.

Among the top unnecessary jobs were medical forms, doctor’s notes, billing, and licensing and privileging, according to the 2020 report. Medical forms made up 83% of doctors’ administrative work, and this may be solved by delegating the job, the report said.

“Many of the forms physicians are spending time to complete may not necessitate clinical input at all.”

To estimate Canada’s total red tape burden, CFIB expanded the 2020 findings and estimated them across all provinces in Canada.

The CFIB released its report during “Red Tape Awareness Week,” the group’s annual event to recognize failures and successes in the world of government regulation.